Materazzo said the type of businesses Andover is looking to attract have set up shop just over the border because of Andover’s strict zoning. He said that has left Andover residents with fewer in-town services than are typically offered.
“For every 10,000 population, you should have one full service grocer,” Materazzo said. With Andover having 34,000 residents and only two grocers, both in or around Shawsheen Plaza, “we’re really a grocer and a half short. From where I sit, and with the work the Planning Board and Economic Development Council has been doing, there has been grocers watching what we do with these two areas.”
“If the Town Meeting looks favorably on these two articles, we may have another grocer looking to come to town,” Materazzo added.
As it stands, the proposal would prohibit any services north of 25,000 square feet in size from opening up in the two areas. This would stop things like “big box stores” from coming to town while giving smaller-store chains, restaurants, stores and fitness centers more places to set up shop, according to Vaill.
The town is looking for “whatever it might be that you, as a worker, might want to shop after work, or maybe during lunch,” Vaill said. “What we’re trying to rule out is the big box Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, the big boxes that wouldn’t add to the culture in those areas.”
The 2011 proposal was presented to the town as the River Road Overlay District. It was brought forward privately by an employee of The Gutierrez Company, a developer that owned several of the 13 pieces of land affected by it. It was pulled from the warrant after the Planning Board opposed it and the Board of Selectmen declined to take a position.
While Vaill said he wasn’t fully aware of the Gutierrez proposal, the fact that it came from a developer with skin in the game may have caused people to look at it “with a little bit of skepticism, whereas this one is being created by the town.”