Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


August 29, 2013

ZBA vacancies putting strain on town board

The new chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals appealed to the Board of Selectmen last week to appoint three more members to his board as soon as possible.

David Brown, who took over as chairman after the sudden resignation of Stephen Anderson earlier this month, said the board is designed to seat nine members, including five regular members and four associate members.

But due to resignations, the board is short three associate members. And the vacancies have the potential to hinder the board’s ability to act.

Brown said the law requires the same board members to hear testimony on a project from start to finish. But without a full complement, and the occasional absence of one member or another, it is difficult to get the required five-member quorum needed to review proposals through to the end, he said.

In fact, he said, one project has to be re-advertised and the public hearing on it re-started because of the paucity of members. In addition, a couple projects, including a small 40B affordable housing development, are in the pipeline and will need approval soon, and Brown said he doesn’t want the shortage of members to interfere with the process.

After a period of relative stability for about 10 years, Brown said the board now finds itself in a unique situation.

“I hope you do it with deliberate speed and not let it drag on for months and months,” Brown said of the need to fill the empty seats.

Brown added he doesn’t want Andover to follow the path of some communities that have allowed their zoning boards to lapse, resulting in projects not getting heard.

“We need to act fast,” selectmen Chairman Alex Vispoli agreed. “We want to get this done as quickly as possible.”

The current situation was caused by the departures of board chairman Stephen Anderson, who resigned a year shy of the end of his three-year term, and two long-time members who chose not to seek reappointment, Brown said.

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