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December 3, 2013

Brimbal decision to go to voters

Beverly: Council sets special election for Feb. 8

BEVERLY — The plan to reshape Brimbal Avenue will now be decided by voters.

The City Council last night set a special election for Saturday, Feb. 8, at Beverly High School to determine the fate of a proposed $20 million shopping plaza and a $25 million roadway project.

Councilors were obligated to authorize the election after residents submitted a petition last month with nearly 3,600 signatures.

“Obviously, we’re grateful for the chance for the city to vote on it,” said Dan DeAngelis, a Brimbal Avenue resident and member of the North Beverly Neighborhood Association, which led the petition drive.

The citizen petition required the City Council to reconsider its previous vote on the project. When councilors re-voted the exact same way last night — 7-2 in favor of a zoning change that would allow the project to proceed — it kicked in a requirement to put the question to voters at a special election.

Councilors voted to hold the election at only one location, the high school, rather than the six regular polling locations throughout the city.

Running an election with a single polling location will cost the city less money. It will also avoid having to cancel school for the day at the elementary schools where voters normally vote.

DeAngelis said he is worried that some voters either will not know that the voting is at the high school or will have more difficulty getting there in inclement weather than if they were voting at their nearby polling place.

“I’m concerned that voters might not be able to get out to the polls,” he said. “But truth be told, we’re grateful we got this on the ballot.”

The special election will decide a technical question — whether to change the zoning on a 21/2-acre parcel of land on Brimbal Avenue — with big implications. Without the zoning change, the state will not be able to proceed with its current plans to redesign the roads in the area.

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