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.
Last May, Andover Town Meeting shot down what was supposed to have been a routine, “spring-cleaning” of the Andover’s Zoning Bylaw. But Article was 35 failed– not because residents opposed the changes, but because they did not understand them.
Andy Rouse of Cattle Crossing did a careful analysis of the proposed changes and found more than 50 errors, ranging from typos and formatting errors to incorrect cross-section references. A bylaw on signs allowed without a permit reinserted language Town Meeting removed in 2021. Another resident complained documents on the Town’s Website did not make clear what, exactly, had been changed, meaning they had to do a side-by-side comparison.
Despite assurances from the planning department there were no policy changes in the updated rules — and unanimous support from the select and planning boards to approve the article — the measure failed on a voice vote.
Article 41 on this year’s warrant is basically the same as last year’s Article 35, with the errors and lack of clarity removed — hopefully. There is still no documentation making it easy to compare the before and after versions of the rules available on the Town’s Website.
The zoning recodification is part of a multi-year effort to make the rules easier to understand and bring them up-to-date and conform with state rules and current case law.
The planning board held a series of information sessions explaining the changes in February and March and a Recodification Workshop on March 20 with Hingham-based Barrett Planning Group, which has been advising the board on the process. The Town has paid $64,500 to Barrett since December 2020, according to the Andover Open Finance Website.
You can watch the March 20 workshop on Andover TV.
Town Meeting Resources
Previous articles in this series:
- Article 4: Fiscal 2024 Budget
- Articles 25 and 26: Ledge Road Landfill
- Article 27: Funding an Active Transportation Plan with Uber/Lyft surcharges
Useful Websites and Documents
- Annual Town Meeting info on Town of Andover Website
- 2023 Annual Town Meeting Warrant
- Information on Andover Moderator Sheila M. Doherty
- Town Meeting FAQs