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.

Stock photo.

Town Meeting Resources

Previous articles in this series:

Useful Websites and Documents

Share Your Thoughts!
5 thoughts on “2023 Town Meeting: Will 2nd Time Be A Charm For Zoning Recodification?”
  1. Interesting to note that Andy Rouse now supports the recodification article, so the town has addressed his prior concerns.

  2. I did a detailed review of the new recodification version and found a few typos and formatting errors, but nothing of consequence. The recodification is definitely an improvement on the language and flow of our zoning bylaws so I hope that it passes.

  3. An article that requires a 2/3 vote to pass and fails has to wait for 2 years before Annual Town Meeting votes on it again.
    The rezoning article should next be voted at the 2024 Annual Town Meeting.

    1. I hadn’t heard of this– where does this rule come from? Is it a town bylaw or is it from the state?

      1. State Law

        Unfortunately zoning law has an exception. If the planning board passes it, it can be considered before 2 years are up. However, it cannot be tried over and over again.
        So if it fails again, the case law about repetitive submission of articles would take effect.

        Zoning General Law 40a Section 5
        No proposed zoning ordinance or by-law which has been unfavorably acted upon by a city council or town meeting shall be considered by the city council or town meeting within two years after the date of such unfavorable action unless the adoption of such proposed ordinance or by-law is recommended in the final report of the planning board.

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