Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

April 18, 2013

Zoning change critical for Andover's future

Editor, Townsman:

At the Town Meeting in May, Andover residents will have an opportunity to approve an article that will allow additional uses to a portion of the existing Industrial Districts located off River Road and Dascomb Road. Generally, the existing office and light manufacturing uses already allowed in the Industrial Districts will be augmented by limited retail and medical office uses. The article is called “ID2 Zoning Amendment.” The Andover Economic Development Council strongly favors this article.

To understand the need for amending the existing zoning, one need only review the history of the Industrial Districts. Back in 1959, the Town of Andover had the foresight to designate areas of land in West Andover for commercial business use. Since that time, Andover has benefitted immensely from the commercial real estate tax revenue and local jobs provided by these planning efforts. And these companies operated in isolated splendor, for the most part.

However, what worked in 1959 does not necessarily work in 2013. Today, companies want their employees to be able to walk to a health center or dry cleaner during their lunch break, or get a cup of coffee on their way to work, or pick up dinner on the way home. And today, office buildings located among retail activity are full of life, while those without this activity are vacant. Yes, some companies are still coming to these districts, but many others are now passing us by as neighboring communities have already moved to address these needs.

We understand the concerns of some Industrial District neighbors and others who might be concerned about unfettered growth, possible traffic congestion or the arrival of an undesirable tenant (such as a “big box” store). The good news is that our town has a formidable set of “checks and balances” in the form of our existing Planning Board. Each and every additional retail proposal will have to go through a rigorous review and approval process — and public hearing — ensuring that the balance between our residential and business needs is met.

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