2023 Annual Town Meeting Summary
Andover’s 2023 Annual Town Meeting took place over two nights, gaveling in at 7:00 PM on Monday, May 1, and dissolving shortly before 10:00 PM on Tuesday, May 2. Town Meeting approved 38 of the 41 articles appearing on the warrant. Two private warrant articles were disapproved, and another was withdrawn from consideration.
Town Meeting acted on a host of issues of critical importance to the Town, including approval of the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, a major tax increment financing (TIF) agreement, closure of the Ledge Road Landfill, and a home rule petition restricting use of the excess levy capacity created through the pension obligation bond plan.
454 registered voters were on hand at the Collins Center for the Performing Arts for the first night of Town Meeting. 299 checked-in for night two.
Significant measures approved by Town Meeting are summarized below. Both nights of Town Meeting can be viewed online through AndoverTV.
Night One Highlights:
Fiscal Year 2024 Budget – Article 4
Town Meeting approved a $223,821,556 budget for Fiscal Year 2024. The full budget can be viewed at andoverma.gov/fy2024budget.
The approved budget will increase staffing levels in the Fire Rescue Department and Police Department consistent with a plan proposed by the Town Manager in recognition of increased demands place on public safety resources in recent decades due to population growth and expanded commercial activity in Andover. Positions added within the Fire Rescue Department will add a Training Lieutenant to the department, put a third ambulance in service 50% of the time, and provide an additional firefighter on the Ladder Truck during every shift. Additional personnel in the Police Department will add two patrol officers to fully staff the traffic unit, and add one officer to the drug enforcement unit. The costs of these new positions will be offset through increased ambulance billing fees, downtown parking revenue, and reduced overtime costs in both Departments.
Home Rule Petition on Excess Levy Capacity – Article 7
Town Meeting approved an article authorizing the Town to file a home rule petition in the state legislature that would place restrictions on the excess levy capacity created as a result of the pension obligation bond plan. The measure would limit allowable uses of this excess levy capacity to funding debt service on pension obligation bonds, post employment benefits, and Town-sponsored capital projects.
Excess levy capacity refers to the gap between the Town’s levy limit, or the maximum amount that can be collected through taxation, and the amount actually collected.. As described by Town Manager Andrew Flanagan in introducing Article 7, the restrictions proposed through this petition will mitigate financial risks to the Town that would be created through maintaining a high level of unrestricted excess levy capacity while maintaining flexibility that the pension obligation plan relies on. The measure was developed based on guidance for preserving the Town’s AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor’s.
The petition will now be submitted to the state legislature, where it must be approved by the House and Senate and ultimately signed by the Governor to be enacted.
Tax Increment Financing Agreement – Article 12
Town Meeting approved a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement with Flagship Pioneering, a large biotech firm, for 3000 Minuteman Road, the former Philips Healthcare campus, a measure that will advance a significant economic development opportunity in the River Road corridor. The TIF agreement will support Flagship Pioneering’s proposal to create a world-class life sciences and biotech hub at the site – investing $325 million in the campus and creating at least 600 jobs in Andover over ten years.
Under the agreement, Flagship will receive incremental property tax relief of 70% annually over 20 years beginning in 2025. The maximum relief that Flagship is entitled to receive through the TIF is capped at $20,082,243 – equal to 6% of the total invest that the company has committed to make at the site and consistent with recent comparable TIF agreements enacted in other Massachusetts Communities.
More information about the terms of the TIF agreement are available at: andoverma.gov/FlagshipTIF.
Electronic Voting – Article 13 & 14
Town Meeting approved an amendment to the Town’s Bylaws that will allow for voting at future Town Meetings to take place through the use of handheld electronic devices. The new method of voting will replace “standing counts,” and is anticipate to improve the voting process at Town Meeting by making it confidential, more accurate, and more efficient.
A subsequent article appropriating $40,000 for the rental of electronic voting equipment for Town Meetings held during FY2024 was also approved.
Night Two Highlights:
Ledge Road Landfill - Articles 25 & 26
Two articles pertaining to the closure of the Ledge Road Landfill were approved by Town Meeting. The Landfill, a 23 acre site located off Chandler Road, was used for solid waste disposal until the 1970s. Closure of the site has been a longstanding priority of the Town. On Tuesday night, Town Meeting approved an appropriation of $2.5 million, the remaining amount needed to fund construction costs associated with the closure. An addition article was passed authorizing the temporary taking of easements that will provide access to the site during the capping process.
In introducing the funding article, Flanagan noted that the Town has received bids for the landfill closure and intends to award a contract for project next month. Constructiwill take place over two years beginning this June. The approvals granted by Town Meeting on Tuesday will allow the Town to proceed on this timeline without delay. The project will enable the Town to meet requirements for the closure of the site imposed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, eliminate infiltration from contaminated material, and improve impaired groundwater surrounding the site.
Solar Power Purchase Agreements - Articles 30-33
Town Meeting approved a series of four articles that will enable the installation of solar panels at Bancroft Elementary School and the new West Elementary/Shawsheen Preschool. Articles authorizing the Town to enter into a contract with a solar provider to purchase to purchase solar energy at a fixed-rate, and authorizing the lease of space for the installation of solar facilities were approved for each site.
Introducing the articles, Director of Sustainability Joyce Losick-Yang noted that the two projects will produce a combined estimated savings of $1.2 million over 20 years by offsetting operational costs at the schools while creating no upfront costs for the Town. The projects are anticipated to reduce carbon emissions by 6,900 tons, and will have the added benefit of extending the life of the roofs at each school.
Zoning Bylaw Recodification - Article 35
A recodification of the Town’s Zoning Bylaw was approved by Town Meeting. Recodification refers to the process of updating the Zoning Bylaw to reorganize content, clarify language, add and update definitions, and bring aspects into compliance with new statutes and judicial rulings. The process is intended to make the document easier to navigate for all users.
Prior to Town Meeting’s approval of Article 35 on Tuesday, Andover’s Zoning Bylaw was last recodified in 2001. Several substantial amendments to the Bylaw have been made in the two decades since, including the Historic Mill Overlay District, which produced minor inconsistencies overtime that were addressed through the recodification process.
The updated Bylaw does not include any significant policy changes, rather it provides a foundation for future amendments, including those that may emerge from the forthcoming Andover Master Plan. All amendments to the Zoning Bylaw require approval from Town Meeting. The full text of the recodified Zoning Bylaw is available online.
|1||Annual Town Election||Reported|
|2||Election Not Required by Ballot||Elected|
|3||Salaries of Elected Officials||Approved|
|4||FY 2024 Budget||Approved|
|5||FY 2024 Capital Projects Fund||Approved|
|6||Financial Housekeeping Articles||Approved|
|7||Home Rule Petition for Excess Levy Capacity||Approved|
|8||Minor Financial Articles||Approved|
|9||General Housekeeping Articles||Approved|
|10||Water Treatment Plant Maintenance||Approved|
|11||Sewer Collection System Maintenance||Approved|
|12||Tax Increment Financing Agreement||Approved|
|13||Bylaw Amendment Electronic Voting at Town Meeting||Approved|
|14||Rental of Electronic Voting Equipment||Approved|
|16||Chapter 90 Authorizations||Approved|
|18||Stabilization Fund Bond Premium||Approved|
|19||Capital Projects from General Fund Borrowing||Approved|
|20||Capital Projects from Free Cash||Approved|
|21||Capital Projects from Water and Sewer Enterprise Funds||Approved|
|22||Adoption of an Enterprise Fund for the Chandler Road Recreation Area||Approved|
|23||Jerry Silverman Fireworks||Approved|
|24||Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – Foster Care Transportation||Approved|
|25||Ledge Road Landfill||Approved|
|26||Taking by Eminent Domain of Easements Related to Ledge Road Landfill||Approved|
|27||Transportation Network Company Funding||Approved|
|28||Andover Sustainability Resolution||Approved|
|30||Authorize Electricity Supply/On Bill Credit Purchase Agreements at Bancroft Elementary School||Approved|
|31||Authorize Lease of Land/Rooftop Space at Bancroft Elementary School for Solar Photovoltaic Facilities||Approved|
|32||Authorize Electricity Supply/On Bill Credit Purchase Agreements at West Elementary School/Shawsheen Pre-School||Approved|
|33||Authorize Lease of Land/Rooftop Space at West Elementary School/Shawsheen Pre-School for Solar Photovoltaic Facilities||Approved|
|34||Randomization of Order of Warrant Articles||Disapproved|
|35||Zoning Bylaw Recodification||Approved|
|36||Town Bylaw Amendment – Stormwater Management and Erosion Control||Approved|
|37||Town Charter Removal of Residency Requirement for Town Manager||Approved|
|38||Zoning Bylaw Amendment – Use Variances||Disapproved|
|39||Taking by Eminent Domain of Hacienda Way||Withdrawn|
|40||Salt Storage at Commercial and Industrial Properties||Approved|
|41||Taking by Eminent Domain of Discontinued Portion of Lewis Street||Approved|