Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

April 25, 2013

Zoning in

Mixed views surround proposed transit overlay district

Today, Lewis Street is home to much of the town’s vehicle fleet and maintenance operations, a pair of massive salt sheds, refueling services and the kind of hustle and bustle you’d expect of a Town Yard charged with serving 33,000 residents and keeping more than 200 miles of roads in good condition.

Town officials envision a better use of the land — multi-story buildings with first-floor retail and restaurants supporting two, three and at times four or five stories of apartments and condos that would target 20- or 30-something working professionals commuting to work from the adjacent commuter rail system.

Annual Town Meeting will vote on what some have said would be the biggest expansion of downtown Andover since its creation.

Approval of the Andover Transit Oriented Development District, articles 30 and 31, would provide officials with a gentleman’s agreement with town voters to relocate the Town Yard and put the 3-acre site on the market for redevelopment, officials have said.

Saying no would send officials a different message altogether. Either way, voting starts on Monday, May 6, at 7 p.m. at the Andover High School field house on Shawsheen Road.

PROS: ZONING WOULD SPUR GROWTH

At its core, the district is considered an overlay. All current zoning for properties within the affected area — business, residential, whatever it may be — would remain intact, but a new use would be added to it, according to Planning Director Paul Materazzo.

“The (ATODD) is currently an overlay district that is seeking to bring three zoning districts into one zoning regulation to provide controls on development,” Materazzo said. “If the town is seeking to see this area expanded and redeveloped, we’re seeking to control how it is developed.

“We’re writing the rules, the music.”

The town’s General Business District — or downtown — encompasses heavy portions of Main, Chestnut, Bartlet, Park and Central streets. Over the span of decades, it has been built to near capacity, and one idea for expanding it has been to spread out and add commercial or mixed-use zoning to neighboring roads.

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