Planning and Zoning Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find out about proposed zoning changes in my area?
If you have heard or read about proposed zoning changes and are interested in learning more; please call the Planning Division for more information.
Massachusetts General Law requires the Planning Board to hold a Public Hearing and make a report to the Town Meeting on all requests for Zoning Map amendments or Zoning Bylaw amendments.
The Annual Town Meeting Warrant often includes one or more proposed Zoning amendments. The staff meets with proponents of Zoning amendments to gather information concerning the proposal and to review the text of the Warrant Article. If it is a proposed boundary change, the staff reviews the maps, comparing the measurements, features and other information with Town Plans on file.
Reports are prepared by the staff to inform the Planning Board and to assist in the preparation of the final recommendation to the Town Meeting. The relationship of the zoning proposal to the recommendations for that area as contained in the Master Plan is of particular concern to the staff in formulating its report.
It should be noted that under state law, amendments to the Zoning Map may be requested by private property owners without involving the need for signatures as would be required for other petitions for articles for the Warrant. This has opened the process, making it easier for people to submit proposed amendments.
Zoning Amendment Process: Proposed changes to the Zoning Bylaw are discussed with the public at a Planning Board meeting and a Planning Board Public Hearing in is held no less than four weeks before Town Meeting. A report to Town Meeting must be prepared for each amendment.
After the adoption of a Zoning Bylaw amendment or Zoning Map amendment at Town Meeting, the Town Clerk to prepares the necessary documentation for review by the Attorney General. All Town Meeting approved Zoning Bylaw or Map changes need the Attorney General's approval before such changes can be incorporated.
How do I get in touch with the Planning Board?
Please call one of the Planning Office Staff or send a letter to the Planning Board Chair c/o the Planning Office, 36 Bartlet Street, Andover, MA 01810
What is the Role of the Planning Board?
The establishment of municipal Planning Boards is authorized by Massachusetts General Law, chapter 41, Section 81A. Among its many diverse roles, the Planning Board is charged with the following duties, paraphrased here from the Mass. General Law:
- Adopting a master plan and official map of the town.
- Conducting studies, and, when necessary, preparing plans of the resources, possibilities and needs of the town for submittal to the Selectmen for their consideration.
- Serving as the local authority for the Subdivision Control Act; adopting Rules and Regulations governing the subdivision of land in the Town of Andover; reviewing all preliminary and definitive plan submittals.
- Drafting and submitting zoning amendments for consideration by the municipality. When a zoning amendment has been put forward, the Planning Board holds the public hearing and may also report its recommendation to the local legislature.
- Serving, in some instances, as the Special Permit Granting Authority (SPGA) for example, under Section 7.1 in the Bylaw, a Special Permit is need by the Planning Board for Residential Cluster Development. For more information regarding special permits reference the Andover Zoning Bylaw or call the Planning Division.
- Reviewing and approving acceptance of streets as Town public ways, with recommendation to the Town Meeting.
- Serving as Site Plan Review Authority for most Special Permits. For more information regarding Site Plan Review reference the Andover Zoning Bylaw or call the Planning Division.
- Under Mass. Gen. L. Ch. 40, 15C, the Scenic Roads Act, the Planning Board is enabled to recommend roads for municipal consideration, and empowers the planning board to oversee specified activities.
How often does the Planning Board meet?
The Planning Board meets the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.
I want to put an addition onto my house. How do I find out about building setbacks and other requirements?
Please reference the Andover Zoning Bylaw, Appendix A, Table 2 for Dimensional Requirements. You are strongly encouraged to consult with the Building Department, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Conservation Commission, Board of Health and the Planning Division as may be appropriate in your particular case. A copy of the full text of the Zoning Bylaw is available for purchase at the Community Development and Planning Department.
What can I do to be more involved?
Volunteer. Find an organization, board or committee in Town in which you are interested in participating. Andover has many diverse committees that are looking for additional volunteers. Please fill out an Andover Talent Bank Form today!