, Salem, MA

November 6, 2013

Letter: Residents deserve voice in Brimbal project

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

Yesterday, Beverly voters had the opportunity to choose those persons they believe are best suited to lead the city in the years ahead. But there is an issue on which voters have not yet had the opportunity to cast their vote: the decision to rezone portions of Brimbal Avenue, which will allow the development of a 70,000 square foot shopping center to be built across the street from the Vittori Rocci Post, as well as the creation of a massive roadway reconfiguration that is out of scale for a residential neighborhood.

The North Beverly Neighborhood Association, made up of Beverly residents concerned about the impact of the proposal, has begun to circulate a petition that would bring the rezoning decision to a citywide vote. The petition requires the signatures of approximately 3,000 voters to have the issue placed on an upcoming ballot, according to the city charter. This would give all of the citizens of Beverly a chance to decide whether the rezoning is in Beverly’s best interest. Since the start of the petition drive, just over a week ago, we have received more than half of the required signatures.

The section of Brimbal Avenue in question is essentially a small industrial/commercial parcel in the middle of two densely populated residential neighborhoods. The area is home to the North Beverly and Hannah elementary schools, a nursing home and a day care facility. It is the road that so many Beverly residents rely on to bring their children to and from school and, for now, is the least congested way to get to Beverly’s downtown businesses from Route 128 and North Beverly. However, that will change with the proposals that accompany this zoning change. Those proposals will have a negative impact on the city as a whole by increasing traffic volume and making it more difficult to travel throughout the city. This will diminish the quality of life and safety of the surrounding neighborhoods, reduce residential property values, limit access to small neighborhood businesses and truly change the character of Beverly. Citizens should have the chance to vote on such an important issue.

The decision to rezone Brimbal Avenue has been marked by a lack of transparency, missing information, misinformation and failure to involve the public from the start. This petition effort was begun by citizens who live in the area surrounding the project whose neighborhoods are directly at risk. However, in the course of meeting with residents, we realize that so many others throughout the city share our concerns of how that process took place. Some city leaders have demonstrated that they are willing to make important decisions while, at the same time, admit the city’s failure to adequately inform and involve residents or address their concerns. This petition seeks to rectify the lack of a proper public process by bringing the rezoning decision to a citywide vote.

Information about the proposal has been difficult to obtain through City Hall in a timely manner. Maps and other documents pertaining to the proposal are available on our website, as well as on Facebook (the North Beverly Neighborhood Association and Montserrat Neighborhood Group pages). We encourage you to learn more about what is planned for Brimbal Avenue and the Route 128 interchange.

We urge Beverly voters to sign the Brimbal Avenue petition, so we all have an opportunity to decide what is best for Beverly.

Dan and Pam DeAngelis

Cathy Burack