Andover Town Counsel Tom Urbelis is stepping down after 33 years in the post.
Urbelis said he “didn’t want to take the board’s time” and will “share my thoughts at an appropriate time in the future” after Town Manager Andrew Flanagan made the announcement at Monday’s select board meeting.
“Tom has been a trusted and loyal adviser in my time as Town Manager, and I know former Town Managers would say the same thing,” Flanagan said. “To say Tom is going out on top would be an understatement. He is widely respected by his peers in the field of municipal law and has recently been recognized as a super lawyer by other Massachusetts attorneys.”
Flanagan said he would present a plan for choosing Urbelis’s replacement at the next select board meeting on May 15. The Town paid Urbelis $130,000 in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022 and $33,000 in the current year.
At times, Urbelis has been a lighting rod for criticism. Last summer, a Massachusetts Land Court ruling said Planning Board and Conservation Commission decisions on a dispute with the owner of the Andover Country Club were “infected with erroneous advice.“ In September, Urbelis told the select board the court’s ruling could be overturned on appeal.
More recently, Urbelis suggested in March the select board may want to put curbs on its public comment periods following a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The state’s highest court ruled the Southborough Select Board’s public comment policy — which reads “All remarks and dialogue in public meetings must be respectful and courteous, free of rude, personal or slanderous remarks. Inappropriate language and/or shouting will not be allowed” — violates free speech rights guaranteed in the state Constitution.