BEVERLY — City councilors are poised to take one of their most significant votes in recent years tonight.
The City Council is scheduled to consider a proposal to rezone a piece of land on Brimbal Avenue, a move that could trigger the building of a $20 million shopping plaza by a private developer and a $25 million traffic and development project by the state and city.
Tonight’s City Council meeting, which starts at 7 p.m., has been moved to the Beverly High School auditorium to accommodate an expected large crowd.
Ward 5 Councilor Don Martin, whose ward includes much of the area in question, said he will vote against the rezoning but expects the council to pass it. The measure requires six votes, out of the nine councilors, to pass.
“Unless something happens between (yesterday) and (tonight), I see it passing,” Martin said.
The issue has galvanized Brimbal Avenue residents, as well as those in North Beverly and Montserrat, who say the plaza, which would be anchored by a Whole Foods Market, will increase traffic on an already busy road.
Mayor Bill Scanlon has touted the rezoning as necessary for the city to gain a $5 million state grant to improve traffic and safety by building a new connector road, widening a section of Brimbal Avenue, and installing roundabouts and traffic signals.
That would be followed by a $20 million second phase that would include building a bridge over Route 128 to connect Brimbal Avenue and Dunham Road. Scanlon said new development made possible by the changes would bring in much-needed tax revenue for the city and would also take traffic off Brimbal Avenue.
Martin said he does not object to the overpass but agrees with residents who say the combination of a shopping plaza, roundabouts and traffic signals on Brimbal Avenue will make traffic worse.