The Andover Select Board will meet next Monday to make a decision on Verizon’s application to install five small cell wireless facilities at different locations in Ballardvale and near Bancroft Elementary School. The equipment is aimed at improving reception in residential areas with poor or spotty service.

The board has to make a decision by Nov. 3, and it’s next regularly scheduled meeting is not until Nov. 7. Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said he will work to hire an attorney with expertise in such matters to discuss the application at the Oct. 24 meeting.

Vice Chair Laura Gregory said she had concerns about the proposal but, like other members, felt she was limited by current rules. Gregory disagreed with guidance given by Town Counsel Tom Urbelis and suggested the board hire an attorney with more experience in such matters to help consider its options for Verizon’s applications and reevaluate the select board’s rules on such installations in the future. “We know there’s more coming,” Gregory said.

Several neighbors spoke in opposition of the proposed towers on Monday and at the select board’s Oct. 3 meeting, raising concerns about health, aesthetics and impact on property values.

“Believe me, I hear the passion in the room tonight,” said Select Board Clerk Annie Gilbert (left in photo above). “But I think we would be hard-pressed to find a street in Andover that doesn’t have a pole, or multiple poles, with canister-like equipment…I’m not seeing how wildly different the proposal is from [those]. It’s unrealistic to think we’re never going to put this type of technology in front of houses.”

Verizon declined a request for a third extension from select board member Christian Huntress. They also said they would not consider other locations for the equipment.

Verizon officials argued federal law and the town’s own guidelines prevent the select board from denying the application. Verizon also said Monday the additional small cell towers were a “public safety issue,” noting that 68 percent of U.S. households are “wireless only.”

“The average home has 22 wireless devices,” Paula Foley of Verizon said. “In affluent communities like Andover, that number can be much higher.”

The so-called small cell wireless facilities are smaller pieces of equipment that will be installed on existing utility poles. “It’s not a cell tower,” Gilbert said. “It’s similar to what we see in several other places…There are telephone poles all over town with similar equipment.”

The red pins on the map below show where Verizon plans to install the towers:

Town Hands Out Last Retail Liquor License, Waiting For More

The select board approved a full liquor license for Barron’s Country Store at 429 Lowell Street, by a 4-0 vote, with Gilbert recusing herself from the public hearing.

Barron’s previously only had a license to sell beer and wine. It was the last full retail liquor license available in Andover, although the beer-wine license Barron’s previously held is now available.

More are on the way, as Andover was approved for six to seven additional liquor licenses following the 2020 Census. Town meeting approved the additional licenses last year. Final approval of the additional licenses is pending in the state legislature.

(Most) Ballots Are In The Mail

Andover Town Clerk Austin Simko said 75 percent of the town’s vote-by-mail ballots for the Nov. 8 state election had been sent last week, and the remainder should be sent out by the end of this week. Simko said Andover was among the last towns in Massachusetts to receive ballots for processing and mailing out to voters who requested them. “If you have not received yours yet, they should arrive soon,” Simko said.

The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 8 general election is Oct. 29, 2022. You can register to vote online or by visiting the Andover Town Clerk’s office. The deadline to submit a vote-by-mail application for the general election is Nov. 1. You’ll need to do this if you want to vote by mail and did not submit a request for your general election ballot when you applied to vote by mail in the Sept. 6 state primary.

You can track your application and ballot status here.

In Other Business

Also on Monday, the select board:

Andover Select Board agenda and meeting packet for Oct. 17

Meeting Video From Andover TV

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