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Special Town Meeting January 29, 2018 - Position Paper (With Post TM Updates)

Article 1:             Intermunicipal Agreement with the Town of North Reading for Potable Water Service
I support this article. Without North Reading as a customer, Andover residents could expect to see a 28% increase in water rates during the 2020 fiscal year alone. With North Reading as a customer we can expect rates to climb by approximately 2.5% per year. 

Post TM Update: This article was approved with an amendment. Selectman Kowalski made some very good points about his concerns with a 99 year commitment. I voted in favor of the amendment to provide an escape clause after 20 years with 5 years notice. 

Article 2:             Application of Bond Premium.

I support this article. The application of the bond premium reduces the amount borrowed, thereby reducing the principal and interest over the life of the obligation.

Post TM Update: This article was approved as written.

Article 3:             CBA with International Association of Firefighters Local 1658.

I support this article. This is a mediated settlement due to the fact that the Firefighters Local 1658 has been out of contract for over four years. Although I support this settlement, it should not take four years and a mediator for the Town of Andover to come to an agreement on a union contract.

Post TM Update: This article was approved as written.

Article 4-6:         Prohibition of Marijuana Establishments (Zoning Article).

I support these articles. These articles amend the appropriate sections of the Andover Zoning Bylaw to prohibit the cultivation, manufacture, or sale of Marijuana. Marijuana is a gateway drug that has no place in our community.

  Post TM Update: This article was defeated. The arguments against the prohibition raised the concern that by making this drug available for sale in Andover we can regulate it, like we do alcohol, and better protect minors who now can find it quite easily on the street. There was also an argument made for the tax benefit that comes along with the establishment of new marijuana sales establishment. I voted in favor of the prohibition for the reasons stated above. I also noted the Andover Chief of Police voted in favor of the prohibition. 

Article 7:             Wood Hill High Plain Accessibility Project.

I support this article. Accessibility to all Town facilities is not only a good idea, but a right required by the American’s with Disabilities Act. 

  Post TM Update: This article was approved as written.

Article 8:             Rezone ID2 district on Dascomb Road back to ID.

I do not support this article as written. There are presently two areas in Andover zoned ID2, one area on Dascomb Road and one area on River Road. This article looks to remove the allowed office, commercial and residential uses from the ID2 district only on Dascomb Road. This would not impact the proposed 15 Acre Dascomb Road project already under consideration. I do not support this article as written because I believe it creates ‘spot zoning’ and would not pass review by the State Attorney General’s Office.  However, I do support the idea that we need to eliminate the very real threat of unintended commercial sprawl on the remaining 30 acres in the ID2 district on Dascomb Road. The Planning Department should review the issue and bring a warrant article back to a future Town Meeting for review and approval.     

Post TM Update: This article was withdrawn. 

Article 9:             Posting Public Documents to Town Website.

I support this article. The public has a right to simplified access to the development plans, reports and peer review comments for projects under review by our Planning Board, Conservation Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals. With the technology available today it would not be difficult to create a website portal which allows residents to log in and get access to the information they are looking for. Most, if not all, of these documents are already created in electronic format. This article, if not approved outright, could be used as a referendum vote to encourage the Town Manager, BOS and Planning Department to develop a plan for future implementation.   

Post TM Update: This article was withdrawn. I would support this article coming back at a future date.

Article 10:           Post Closure Use of Ledge Road Landfill.

I do not support this article.  This article looks to further limit what the Town can do on the 25-acre closed landfill off Ledge Road. As a landfill this site is already limited in its potential use by DEP regulations.   The Town should be able to consider future uses on property without further restrictions. The discussion should be public, records should be easily accessible, and neighbors should be informed as any future plans move forward.

Post TM Update: This article was withdrawn.

Article 11:           Allowed Planned Developments in ID2 Zoning Districts.

I support this article. This article looks to allow the use of a Planned Unit Development (PUD), including residential uses, in the ID2 Zoning District. The use of a PUD as a zoning tool has proven to be very successful in Massachusetts since it was first adopted by State Law in 1970’s (MGL Chapter 40A, Sect 9). My reasons for supporting this article include the requirements that any PUD proposal must first secure Town Meeting approval and then be required to secure a Special Permit through the Andover Planning Board. The Special Permit is a discretionary permit, meaning it is not by a “by-right” permit and the Town can say no when the impact is considered detrimental to the surrounding neighborhood or the Town at large.   This process allows for a very public review of any large project in the ID2 district and affords the Town additional protection through the Special Permit process.

Post TM Update: This article was defeated. I voted in favor of this article for the reasons outlined above. 

Article 12:           Dascomb Road Project – Planned Development Master Plan.

I support this article. This article looks to include a residential component to the existing development proposed off Dascomb Road. I live in Ballardvale and drive Dascomb Road every day. I support this article for the following five reasons:

1. Swapping out 200,000 sf of Office use for Residential Use lowers the weekday traffic volumes by 35%. It also reduces the weekend traffic volumes by 15%.

2. Switching to residential reduces the amount of parking spaces required, allowing the developer to increase open space and landscape areas with the residential plan.

3. Residential Use attracts better retail shops and restaurants.

4. The Residential apartments are restricted to residents 55 years and older, eliminating school impacts. Also, 15% of the apartments will be set aside as affordable homes.

5. The construction schedule for the plan with residential use is 18-24 months. The construction schedule for the plan with all commercial and office is 4-5 years. The office space will take longer to build and occupy, meaning we will have the impacts of construction activity over a much longer period.

Post TM Update: This article was defeated. I voted in favor of this article for the reasons outlined above.

Article 13:           Date of Town Elections – Home Rule Legislation.

I am not in support of this article as written. I am a strong supporter of getting more people to the polls, but I listened to our Town Clerk explain the complication of have a national and local election on the same day. Our current voter turnout is approximately 15% and I support any options which can help increase participation.

Post TM Update: This article was defeated. I voted against this article for the reasons outlined above. However, I think the sponsor of this article made some very good points regarding the benefits to voter turnout by moving the local elections to November. I would support this article being reviewed by the Town and coming back to a future Town Meeting as a Town sponsored warrant article.  

Article 14:           Amend the Zoning Bylaw – Dimensional Special Permit (Historic Preservation)

I support this article. This bylaw has been used successfully to save of 13 historic structures in Andover. This amendment is offered by the Preservation Commission to strengthen the bylaw and clarify the process. 

  Post TM Update: This article was approved.

 


Committee to Elect Christian Huntress
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