, Salem, MA

Local News

November 4, 2013

Opponents mount petition drive

Group cites conflict of interest in plaza proposal

BEVERLY — The grass-roots movement against the proposal to build a shopping plaza on Brimbal Avenue is moving forward on several fronts.

Residents have mounted a petition drive that could ultimately let voters decide the issue in a special election. They’ve also filed a conflict-of-interest complaint against state Rep. Jerry Parisella over his role in the project, as well as a public records request seeking information from the state and the city.

In the meantime, Parisella and state Sen. Joan Lovely have filed a bill to approve a land swap between the state and the shopping plaza developer.

The petition asks the City Council to reconsider its vote to rezone the land where the shopping plaza would be built. If the council does not change its vote, the question would be put to voters in a special election.

The North Beverly Neighborhood Association, which is spearheading the petition drive, said it has gathered almost half of the estimated 3,000 signatures required to put the question on the ballot.

“I think it’s going really well,” Brimbal Hills Drive resident Cathy Burack said. “It’s interesting to be out and have people come up to me and ask to sign the petition. I take that as evidence that there’s a really high degree of support and interest.”

Residents need to gather signatures from 12 percent of the city’s registered voters. The city had 25,300 registered voters as of last month’s preliminary election.

By law, the signatures must be submitted by Nov. 12.

Burack and Dan DeAngelis of the North Beverly Neighborhood Association said they have filed complaints with the State Ethics Commission over Parisella’s role in seeking funding for the Brimbal Avenue project and supporting the land swap.

The complaint questions whether Parisella should be involved because he worked as an attorney for Alexander & Femino, the Beverly law firm that represents shopping plaza developer CEA Group.

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