Next week, Town Meeting will consider adopting the Senior Residential Overlay District (articles 26 and 27), a zoning change designed to address the long-standing need to improve the quality of housing available to Andover’s senior citizens. The Overlay District designation would make it possible to develop a community for senior citizens on a unique and beautiful parcel of land located between the Merrimack River and River Road at the western tip of Andover. The area is already zoned for residential development, but the overlay would create a much more flexible set of guidelines aimed not only at responding to the housing needs of Andover’s aging population, but also at the support services especially designed for seniors.
Since 1992, town boards have been trying to find a way to keep older residents from moving away and to attract those who would like to move here to join their children and grandchildren who live in Andover. The rising cost of housing and the lack of attractive residential options available to seniors have blocked the town’s efforts. This special opportunity presents itself because the Franciscan Order needs to sell its land, which is uniquely suited as a site to respond to the town’s overall goals for senior housing.
This opportunity is timely because Andover, like most communities in America, is facing a growing pressure to accommodate an aging population. The first Baby Boomers are just reaching 64 years of age and represent the front end of an extraordinary population shift.
The town and its younger citizens are also beneficiaries of this kind of land use. Revenues go up from increased real estate taxes — more so than by just creating a single-family subdivision; school expenses do not go up; senior citizen communities create jobs to provide the extra services the residents need; and, as
part of the overlay proposal, a very large percentage of the land, as well as the river’s edge, will be permanently preserved as open space accessible to the general public. It’s a good deal for the whole community.
Co-chairman, Franciscan Overlay District Task Force
8 Forbes Lane