, Salem, MA

January 23, 2014

Letter: A 'no' vote can lead to a better project

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

For months, the citizens of Beverly have openly and honestly voiced their opinions about the proposed Brimbal Avenue project and associated land swap proposal and zoning change involving the CEA Group. The citizens have attended and tried to make their concerns heard at lengthy public hearings, to no avail. The redesign of Brimbal Avenue and the ramps leading to and from Route 128, coupled with proposed property development in a way never before allowed on this residential street, is cause for concern to all Beverly residents. It is a complicated monster of a project that does not fit into this neighborhood. It is going to have negative impact on outlying sections of the city, far beyond its footprint. This is the big picture. This I understand.

For his own reasons, the developer who benefits from the land swap is now contradicting past statements he has made concerning his development and is trying to make us think this is all about a Whole Foods Market. First it was stated that if the land swap and rezoning was not ultimately approved, he would build a Whole Foods Market anyway. Now he is stating that if it is not approved, he will not build a Whole Foods Market. Does he think this is the only issue related to this project that the voters will care about? And by stating this, he will sway the outcome of the vote being taken on Feb. 8? Yes, what is approved for development on that parcel of land is of huge concern. But in no way is it the only issue. Has he not heard us in the way our own elected officials have not heard us? It is the WHOLE project, as it is currently designed, that we are opposed to, including allowing retail development where is has previously been prohibited. And, yes, putting a regional grocery store in that development is a bad idea, but this is just one piece of the bigger issue.

A “no” vote on Feb. 8 negates this Brimbal Avenue project as currently designed. It does not mean there will be no development on Brimbal Avenue, but, hopefully, it means the city will carefully approve what kind of development occurs, as is stipulated in “overlay zoning.” It does not mean the Brimbal Avenue and Route 128 ramp improvements will never occur. It means that if the city wants to continue to pursue this, it will have to redesign the proposal and resubmit it to the state. It means we, the citizens of Beverly, should have a voice in that redesign and can help preserve the Brimbal Avenue neighborhoods and prevent our beautiful city from becoming one never-ending traffic jam.

Maria Judy Norris Martin