April 12, 2023

Select Board Elects New Chair, Receives Update on Policy on Removal and Replacement of Trees, and Considers Adjustments to Water Rates



  • Select Board Elects Melissa Danisch to serve as Chair of the Board following Annual Town Meeting, along with new Vice Chair and Clerk;
  • Reviews policy pertaining to the removal and replacement of public trees; and
  • Considers proposed adjustments for Water Rates for FY24-29



ANDOVER, MA - The Andover Select Board met on Wednesday, April 12 in the Robb Senior Center’s Lifelong Learning Room. The meeting saw the Board conduct an annual reorganization, electing new officers for the new upcoming year. The Board held first readings on a proposed tree removal and replacement policy, and proposed adjustments to water rates for FY2024 through FY2029.


Tree Removal and Replacement Policy 

Deputy Town Manager Mike Lindstrom provided the Board with an overview of a proposed policy for the removal and replacement of public trees. 


A key objective of the policy is to increase partnership with residents through improving outreach in instances when the Town plans to remove a tree, beyond what is required under state guidelines. This will be achieved by improving notification protocols through the distribution of doorhangers to nearby residents advising them of a planned tree removal and providing information on replacement options.  The policy will implement a replacement schedule for removed trees of no longer than two years. 


The policy also calls for the creation of a Town Tree Committee that would be comprised of a broad range of stakeholders, and charged with developing a tree bylaw to be considered by Town Meeting. The proposed committee would also be responsible for evaluating best practices for planting trees in public right of ways, weighing the incorporation of tree plantings in construction projects, and assessing the relationship of trees in the Town’s complete street efforts.


Lindstrom noted that the concept of developing a tree policy has been discussed in the Town of Andover since 2015. The proposed policy discussed on Monday is the product of over a year’s worth of effort on the part of a coalition of Town staff and community stakeholders, including members of the Open Space Task Force, the Andover Green Advisory Board, WECAN, and Walk/Bike Andover. This work was prompted, in part, by a 2021 tree inventory funded through a DCR Urban & Community Forestry Grant, which cataloged the condition of over 16,000 trees on public right of ways. 


Water Rate Plan  
 The Select Board began its review of a proposed water rate plan for FY2024 through FY2029. The plan would adjust rates paid by water customers to enable the Town to continue its accelerated Water Main Replacement Program, invest in necessary capital improvements to water distribution infrastructure, and maintain service levels. 


The current rate plan, adopted by the Board in 2018, establishes three tiers according to which customers pay varying rates based on consumption. The proposed plan would add two additional tiers, establishing higher rates for 12.2% percent of existing water users with the highest rates of consumption (which are generally largescale commercial users). 


Under the plan, the average annual water bill would increase by an estimated $25.04 to $494.69 in FY2024 following a 9% rate increase across all five tiers.


As noted by Town Manager Andrew Flanagan in a presentation outlining the proposed rate adjustment, the $494.69 average rate paid by Andover customers in the first year of the plan would remain significantly lower than rates paid in comparable communities. The average annual water bill among communities throughout the region and other comparable AAA rated suburban communities averages $683.23. 


Flanagan emphasized the continued value of the North Reading Water Agreement in limiting rate increases for Andover customers and offsetting costs of upcoming capital projects. In FY2024, the Town of Andover will see net revenues totaling an estimated $1.5 million through the agreement. These revenues are particularly important as the Town looks ahead to significant capital projects, including the Fish Brook Pump Station which will cost an estimated $15 million. 


The Select Board’s review of the proposed water rate adjustments marked its first reading on the matter. The Board will consider adoption of the rates at a future meeting.


Election of Chair, other Officers

The Select Board conducted an annual reorganization, electing new officers following the March 28 Town Election. Melissa Danisch was elected to serve as Chair of the Select Board and will assume the position following Annual Town Meeting. She will replace Alex Vispoli, who is concluding a one-year term in the role. 


The Board elected Laura Gregory to continue to serve as Vice Chair, and Chris Huntress to serve as Clerk. Their one-year terms in these positions will also begin following Annual Town Meeting in May. 


Other Information

Town Manager Andrew Flanagan outlined the process by which the Town will evaluate recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day in response to a request made by the Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Flanagan stated that he intends to form a working group comprised of community stakeholders, including DEI Commission representatives and members of the Knights of Columbus, that will ultimately make a recommendation to the Board. 


The full meeting can be viewed online at through AndoverTV