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September 4, 2013

Residents speak out against plan

Strong opposition is shown for proposed Brimbal Avenue shopping plaza

BEVERLY — The first phase of Mayor Bill Scanlon’s long-sought plan to revamp Brimbal Avenue ran into strong opposition last night at City Hall.

An overflow crowd of more than 100 people took up all the seats in City Council chambers and stood along the back wall to listen to a proposal that would allow for the development of a shopping plaza.

Many residents spoke out against the idea, saying it would increase traffic on an already busy road and adversely impact their quality of life.

“I think North Beverly has more than their share of development,” Walnut Avenue resident Michael Wogan said as the crowd broke out in applause. “Why should we be subject to all the traffic?”

The meeting was a joint public hearing by the City Council and Planning Board to consider a request to change the zoning on a section of Brimbal Avenue across from Vittori-Rocci Post.

If approved, the zoning change would allow a developer to build a proposed $20 million shopping plaza on land that is now owned in part by the state.

Scanlon favors the zoning change because he said the state needs land now owned by the developer, CEA Group, in order to build a new connector road designed to ease traffic problems from Route 128 to Brimbal Avenue.

If the change goes through, the state and CEA Group would swap land, allowing the state to build the new road and CEA Group to build a shopping plaza.

The plaza, to be called North Shore Commons, would have a 35,000-square-foot anchor store, three restaurants, a bank, and retail and medical space.

Scanlon said the development would not significantly increase traffic on Brimbal Avenue because many people would access the plaza directly from Route 128. That suggestion drew laughs from the crowd at one point.

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