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An emergency petition filed Wednesday by an Andover resident in Essex Superior Court Wednesday claims Annual Town Meeting will violate the Americans With Disabilities Act if it is held as scheduled at 7 p.m. on May 1.
“Currently, [Annual Town Meeting] is scheduled at 7 p.m.on May 1, 23, after dark, making it difficult for Sr. Citizens to attend, as well as disabled voters,” High Street resident Donal Coleman said in his handwritten complaint. Coleman requested an emergency hearing, asking the court to order Andover to move the date to a Saturday morning to allow seniors to participate.
Andover News has asked Coleman for comment and will update this story when he replies. The Town of Andover, by policy, does not comment on active litigation.
More coverage of the 2023 Annual Town on Andover News.
The Town Governance Study Committee had a subcommittee consider the time and location of Town Meeting, but the focus was on the limited time newly-elected officials to prepare for the May meeting after the local election in March. The study committee recommended continue holding the election in March and Annual Town Meeting in May, but having newly-elected officials take office after Annual Town Meeting when it submitted its 198-page report in December.
“In particular, new officials elected to their seats in March have very little time before Town Meeting to apprise themselves of complex budget, zoning, and bylaw articles that will be decided at the May Annual Town Meeting,” the report concluded. “And, even when newly elected officials educate themselves, they nonetheless represent different political actors than the ones who led the multimonth [sic] process culminating in the imminent Town Meeting.”
In surveys conducted by the study committee, 130 of 288, or 45.1 percent, of respondents said time conflicts prevented them from attending town meeting. Of the respondents who wanted to keep Andover’s open town meeting form of government, 7 percent said the Town should consider changing the meeting time and location