Andover’s Annual Town Meeting begins on May 1 and will continue on subsequent nights until all 41 articles on the 2023 warrant have been addressed. Andover News will publish explainers on key articles between now and the end of April, and publish a Town Meeting Cheat Sheet for those who plan to attend during the last week of April. Additional Town Meeting resources and information are at the bottom of this article.

Articles in this series will be free for non-subscribers to read.

Town Meeting will be asked to approve two articles submitted by Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan and DPW Director Chris Cronin aimed at continuing work to cap the Ledge Road Landfill. Neighbors have raised concerns about the scope of the work and the impacts it will have on their neighborhood.

Update, April 21: The Town of Andover has posted a short video explaining the articles on its Facebook page.

Articles 25 and 26: Ledge Road Landfill

Andover stopped using the Ledge Road landfill in 1972 but, more than 50 years later, it remains partially uncapped. The capping project has been a long-running point of contention between the Town and neighbors, meaning these two articles could be the subject of debate when Town Meeting convenes on May 1.

Article 25 asks Town Meeting to approve money through borrowing, taxation or the transfer of available fund to continue work on the project.

If Town Meeting approves Article 26, the Town would use eminent domain to take temporary and permanent easements at 168, 170 and 172 Greenwood Drive to let trucks reach the site. Eminent domain allows a municipality to force the sale of property to a town or city at fair market value when such a purchase is for the greater public good.

How much will it cost?

Andover has already spent $10.1 million with Town Meeting approval, including:

  • $2.2 million for the initial closure phase in 1999.
  • $500,000 for design of future phases in 2006.
  • $7.4 million for closing the landfill in 2008.

Last year, Andover also used $2.5 million ARPA money from COVID relief funds for the project.

The most recent feasibility evaluation recommended paying for corrective actions with a $675,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection revolving fund.

Why the project is important:

Landfills create methane as organic matter decomposes. While the gases are nontoxic, they can ignite. Andover monitors gas levels quarterly, and more regularly on playing fields and a parking lot that were built on a portion of the 25.8 acre site in the 1980s.

The biggest concern, according to the Town’s 2014 fact sheet on the project, is chemicals seeping into the Town’s water supply. Measurements for arsenic in the wetlands near the site’s western edge, which makes up a small portion of Andover’s water supply, exceed drinking water standards.

Neighbor concerns:

In an email circulated last week, neighbors raised several questions and concerns they want addressed at Thursday’s meeting, including:

  • Truck traffic. A 2015-16 analysis suggested the project would require 40 truck trips per day over an 18-month period.
  • Safety measures in plans to removed wetland soil from seven “arsenic hotspots” behind residents’ homes on Pettingel and Greenwood Roads.

Another key sticking point: how will the land be used once the landfill is capped? Town Meeting passed a resolution in 2015 saying future use of the property would need Town Meeting approval. At the time, Town Counsel Tom Urbelis said the article added to the warrant through citizen petition was nonbinding.

Town Meeting Resources

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