“It is the happiest day of my life,” Spencer said, “second only to my daughter being born.”
And he’s not joking. It’s almost as if Spencer himself gave birth to this Brobdingnagian banner.
A banner’s slow rise
A cursory review of Andover Townsman articles and an interview with Spencer gives some indication of why it took so long to get this thing hung.
Spencer told the Townsman in January 2008 that he and fellow members of the Andover Business Community Association began working on a banner bylaw in 2004 after they were told by town officials that year that they couldn’t hang a banner to promote — you guessed it — Andover Day.
Town officials told him that since there was nothing in the sign bylaw about banners, they must be illegal.
“It was a very severe reading of the bylaw,” he said. Rather than take that as a defeat, Spencer worked closely with local attorney Peter Caruso and Jim Kapelson of Kap’s Menswear on a new bylaw that addresses banners.
“I researched every bylaw across the country and wrote it myself,” he said, adding that Andover’s now senior planner Lisa Schwarz was instrumental in guiding him through the process of researching and writing a bylaw that would get the necessary approvals.
Once it was written, the bylaw ran the gauntlet, garnering approvals from the Board of Selectmen, Design Review Board, Planning Board and the now-defunct Main Street Committee, among others. Spencer and his team held numerous meetings with town officials, including many with the building inspector.
“We went through one committee after another and wore everyone down until we had everybody on our side,” he said.
Then, it was on to Town Meeting — one of the events the banners are intended to promote — where voters in May 2008 approved Spencer’s bylaw.