BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — The city clerk’s office has certified more than 3,500 signatures on the Brimbal Avenue petition, enough to send the issue back to the City Council and potentially to voters.
A total of 3,598 signatures, about 500 more than needed, have been certified, according to City Clerk Kathy Connolly.
Connolly said the petition will be presented to the City Council at its meeting Monday night. It requires the council to reconsider its Oct. 7 vote to rezone a parcel on Brimbal Avenue that would allow for construction of a shopping plaza and trigger a $5 million state project to redesign traffic flow in the area.
If the council does not overturn its decision to change the zoning, the issue will go before voters, either in a special election set by the City Council or at the next scheduled city election.
“We’re grateful for a chance for the whole city to decide if this is a good idea,” said Dan DeAngelis of the North Beverly Neighborhood Association, which helped lead the petition drive.
Residents who object to the Brimbal Avenue plans say the shopping center and road changes will create more traffic and disrupt the neighborhood.
The proposed $20 million shopping center would include a Whole Foods Market, while the road changes include widening a section of Brimbal Avenue and reconfiguring the interchange with Route 128 in an effort to improve traffic flow and safety.
Overturning the council’s rezoning vote would prevent the state from acquiring a parcel of land that is needed for the road project to proceed.
The land would be acquired through an exchange between the state and developer CEA Group. The state would use the developer’s land to move the road that connects Sohier Road and Brimbal Avenue, while the developer would use the state’s land to build the shopping plaza.
The land transfer requires legislation that has been approved by the state Legislature and is awaiting the signature of Gov. Deval Patrick.
The state’s plans are being reviewed by the Beverly Conservation Commission and the state Department of Environmental Protection in order to assess the project’s impact on wetlands in the area.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.