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Andover’s 2023 Annual Town Meeting dissolved Tuesday after recognizing two, longtime public servants, lifting the Town Manager residency requirement and considering the other 21 remaining articles on the 41-article warrant.

Just 299, or 1.1 percent of Andover’s 26,348 registered voters attended Tuesday’s session. That was down from 454, or 1.7 percent, on Monday, when Town Meeting approved the annual operating and capital budgets for the fiscal year beginning July 1 and approved electronic voting for future Town Meetings.

On other key articles, Andover’s legislative body shot down a requirement to consider warrant articles in random order, approved $2.5 million to close the Ledge Road Landfill, and approved a Zoning By-law rewrite in voted against last year. Both night’s sessions clocked in at about three hours.

Article 37 to ask the state legislature to change the Town’s charter and lift the Town Manager residency requirement was the most hotly-debated item of the night. The requirement was established before Andover hired its first Town Manager in 1956, and came out of the Town Governance Study Committee’s recommendations for changes in how the Andover operates.

Before the select board voted to approve recommending Town Meeting passage of the article, a consultant told the board towns were increasingly doing away with such requirements. Bernie Lynch, who was previously town manager in Chelmsford and city manager in Lowell, said dropping the requirement allows towns to draw from a wider candidate pool when hiring a town manager.

No Random Ordering Of Warrant

Town Meeting rejected Article 34, which would have randomly set the order of articles on the annual warrant. Steve Walther, who got the article on this year’s warrant through citizen petition, said other towns had adopted similar policies to prevent “political manipulation.”

Walther noted that, based on roll call votes, Town Meeting attendance dropped more than 75 percent between the seventh and last articles on the 2021 warrant.

“Attendance declines as the meeting goes on — it’s a very long meeting,” Walther said. “What that means is any voting block — and sometimes Town officials vote as a block — has much more power at the end of the meeting than they do at the beginning of the meeting.”

Incoming Select Board Chair Melissa Danish said the order of the warrant is already discussed and approved in public meetings, and putting the articles in random order “presents several problems.”

Ralston, Urbelis Recognized For Service

Tuesday’s session opened with awarding the Virginia Cole Community Service Award to Gail Ralston and recognition of Town Counsel Tom Urbelis, who is retiring this summer after 32 years with Andover.

Ralston was recognized serving on the select board and Town Governance Study Committee, and working on the Town’s 350th anniversary celebration, among other contributions. The Virginia Cole Award is given for “outstanding, long-term contributions to the Town of Andover,” and applications were reviewed by Moderator Sheila Doherty, Select Board Chair Alex Vispoli and School Committee Chair Susan McCready.

“I’m happy to tell you this year our vote was unanimous,” Doherty said. “You may not know [Ralston], but if you have paid any attention at all to things going on in the Town of Andover, you have benefited from their efforts.”

In paying tribute to Urbelis, Vispoli said he “kept the Town in a good spot and always gave good counsel.”

“I always tried to help the employees do their jobs more efficiently and more effectively by relieving them of the stress of any legal issues that may be encumbering or affecting their performance,” Urbelis said. “And in doing so, I’ve come away with such an appreciation of the professionalism and the competence of Town employees across the board.”

Photo: Town of Andover/Facebook

More coverage of the 2023 Annual Town on Andover News.

Warrant and Results

For more information on warrant articles, see the Andover Finance Committee report.


20Capital Projects from Free CashPassed
21Capital Projects from Water and Sewer Enterprise FundsPassed
22Enterprise Fund for Chandler Road Recreation AreaPassed
23Jerry Silverman FireworksPassed
24Foster Care TransportationPassed
25Ledge Road LandfillPassed
26Ledge Road LandfillPassed
27Active Transportation Plan (Uber/Lyft surcharges)Passed
28Andover Sustainability ResolutionPassed
29Shawsheen SchoolPassed
30Bancroft Electricity Purchase AgreementsPassed
31Bancroft Solar FacilitiesPassed
32West El Electricity Purchase AgreementsPassed
33West El Solar FacilitiesPassed
34Order of Warrant ArticlesFailed
35Zoning By-law UpdatePassed
36Stormwater Management and Erosion Control By-law AmendmentPassed
37Town Manager Residency RequirementPassed
38Use Variances By-law AmendmentFailed
39Hacienda Way/Eminent DomainWithdrawn
40Salt StoragePassed
41Lewis Street/Eminent DomainPassed


1Annual Town ElectionReported
2Election Not Required by BallotElected
3Salaries of Elected OfficialsPassed
4Fiscal 2024 BudgetPassed
5FY2024 Capital Projects FundPassed
6Financial Housekeeping ArticlesPassed
7Excess Levy CapacityPassed
8Minor Financial ArticlesPassed
9General Housekeeping ArticlesPassed
10Water Treatment Plant MaintenancePassed
11Sewer Collection System MaintenancePassed
12Tax Increment Financing AgreementPassed
13Electronic VotingPassed
14Electronic VotingPassed
15Unpaid BillsPassed
16Chapter 90 AuthorizationsPassed
17Granting EasementsPassed
18Stabilization Fund Bond PremiumPassed
19Capital Projects from General Fund Borrowing (Amended)Passed

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