Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

May 9, 2013

Town Yard zoning, Ballardvale pitch fall at Town Meeting

(Continued)

TOWN YARD ZONING plan FALLS FLAT

A proposal aiming to rezone roughly 24 acres of land around the Town Yard on Lewis Street for mixed use development failed in a vote of 295 for and 191 against — getting majority approval but falling short by 29 votes of the two-thirds approval it needed to pass. The second article on the “Andover Transit Oriented Development District” article was withdrawn after the first article failed.

Discussion of the “Andover Transit Oriented Development District” article continually shifted toward the impact it would have on efforts to rebuild or relocate the Town Yard, which officials have historically indicated are linked.

During discussion, Doherty frequently stepped in and stopped comments, telling residents to focus on the zoning article, not the overall project.

“There is noise coming out of my mouth, right? This is a zoning article, not a town yard article,” she said. “I understand the ramifications of it. We all in this room understand the ramifications ... I will call out of order anyone who is moving in any other direction.”

Alden Road resident Joe Ponti referred to the article as a “house of cards” when stating his opposition to the proposal.

“Everything is based off of an assumption on an assumption,” he said. “If you vote it, you put a chain of events in motion that, I think, is going to be irreparable. They’ll come after you Town Meeting after Town Meeting. ‘We rezoned it, let’s vote for $20 million.’”

RESIDENTS CHALLENGE operating BUDGET

As residents heard presentations on article 4, the town’s operating budget for next fiscal year, they challenged the town’s retirement benefits planning, department consolidation and one resident’s attempts to lower what the town will pay out in health insurance costs starting in July.

Much of the discussion was stirred by residents Bob Pokress and Bob Landry, who founded the website TownOfAndover.com with resident and past-Finance Committee member Greg Rigby around a month ago.

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