Editor, Townsman:

Economics.fundamenatalfinance.com defines an economic externality as “when an individual or firm making a decision does not have to pay the full cost of the decision." It goes on “a common example of a negative externality is pollution ... a steel-producing firm might pump pollutants into the air. While the firm has to pay for electricity, material, etc., the individuals living around the factory will pay for the pollution since it will cause them to have higher medical expenses, poorer quality of life, reduced aesthetic appeal ... etc.”

The proposed 103-unit, 35-foot-high, 88,126-square-foot senior assisted living complex at 139-143 Elm St. is just such a case.  The very character of the neighborhood will be changed forever — traffic and car accidents will increase, noise pollution from ambulances and trucks will increase, additional flooding in the wetlands could cause abutters problems, night light pollution, among other negative externalities.

And who will pay for these negative externalities — the current owners Robert and Lisa Maye? No, they are greatly profiting from the sale of their land in this fashion. The developer, Capital Seniors Housing? No, they are based in Washington, D.C. and for them, this is just another financial transaction. The proposed facility management company Northbridge Companies? No, this an expanding business opportunity for them.

No, it is not any of these for-profit entities or anybody on the Andover Planning Board who does not live in the neighborhood.  Who bears the true long-term costs? It is the thousand or so neighbors who will be affected by building such a large commercial complex in the middle of their residential neighborhood. Abutters and homeowners in the general area will be most impacted, but there will be a negative rippling effect across the community from the north part of Elm Street to downtown Elm Square, Highland Avenue to Chestnut Street to Main Street and all the surrounding traffic cut-throughs, including Pine, Washington, Walnut, Howell, Carmel, Whittier, Wollcott, Maple, Summer, Rogers Brook, Stevens, Upland, Stratford, Avon and Pasho, to name a few.

Yes, it is you and me that will end up paying for these negative externalities should the Andover Planning Board shirk its responsibility as provided in Andover’s Article VIII. Zoning By-Law Section 7.4.1 Purpose, specifically Objectives 5 & 6, and approve this project.

George Thorlin

115 Summer St.



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