BEVERLY — Residents who were demanding a full airing of the Brimbal Avenue project got their fill last night.
In a public hearing that lasted more than four-and-a-half hours, dozens of speakers stepped to the microphone to express overwhelming opposition to a proposed zoning change that could pave the way for a $20 million shopping plaza on Brimbal Avenue.
Nearly every resident who spoke said the increased traffic from the plaza, which the developer confirmed last night would include a Whole Foods Market, would impair the quality of life for residents on and near an already busy roadway.
“We don’t need another shopping plaza,” Nelson Avenue resident Vicki Cozzolino said to applause from the audience. “My daughter won’t ride her bike in Beverly because the traffic is so bad.”
The meeting was a continuation of a hearing that started on Monday night at City Hall but had to be moved when the large crowd that turned out could not fit into City Council chambers.
More than 200 people showed up again last night in the more spacious high school auditorium to ask questions and express their opinions on the project.
The project, scheduled to be accomplished in two phases, would create a series of new interchanges in the Route 128/Brimbal Avenue area in an effort to both improve traffic safety and create economic development.
For the first phase to begin, the City Council must approve a zoning change that could allow a developer to build a shopping plaza across from the Vittori-Rocci Post. If the change is approved, the developer has agreed to a land swap that would allow the state to move the connector road between Sohier Road and Brimbal Avenue, a move that officials say is needed to prevent cars from backing up onto Route 128.