EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 23, 2013

Zoning, renovations heavy on Town Meeting

By Dustin Luca

---- — ANDOVER — At least 59 articles face Annual Town Meeting voters this year on a warrant loaded with zoning amendments, construction projects and other large capital requests.

Town departments and officials have put 56 articles forward for the April 29 meeting. They total $16.5 million as worded, but other articles — like the year’s annual budget, last year approved at nearly $141 million — don’t yet have dollar amounts on them.

Three private articles initiated by residential petitions also join the public articles, reflecting $560,000 in requests. A private article seeking to build a sidewalk along Highland Road for $635,000 wasn’t submitted prior to the warrant closing Friday, Jan. 18, according to Town Clerk Larry Murphy.

Also not included on the warrant are two articles on the Cormier Youth Center. The articles, seeking to move the building’s footprint by 35 feet and to restructure how the building will be built, were slated for next month’s Special Town Meeting but pulled in favor of getting more discussion ahead of April’s Annual town Meeting.

Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski said that after reviewing the articles yesterday morning, “I discovered that three warrant articles I wanted to have on the preliminary list weren’t included as of Friday” when the warrant closed.

Also not included was a “fallback” article for Bancroft Elementary School. The project is the focus of February’s Special Town Meeting, where voters will be asked to raise an additional $5.7 million to cover a budget shortfall facing the project.

The fallback article is being included if residents reject the article at Special Town Meeting, according to Stapczynski.

“I’ll ask the Selectmen at their meeting Monday night to open and close the preliminary warrant to include these articles,” he said.

Town Meeting will also be asked to purchase just over 11 acres of privately owned land on Chandler Road adjacent to the Ledge Road Landfill that has been contaminated by the landfill since it was closed in the 1970s, according to Stapczynski. The land will cost the town $775,000.

A “fraction” of that land is being purchased by the town because the landfill was built on the land after officials at the time didn’t have the right property boundaries marked off.

“Then when we did a survey of the site, we found that, indeed, some of the trash was placed over the line,” Stapczynski said.

The rest of the land is being purchased because remediation is necessary to clean the property after being contaminated by the landfill.

Among zoning requests, officials hope to create a new industrial district to expand uses of land by the town’s Route 93 interchanges with Dascomb and River roads.

The town is also hoping to create an Andover Transit Oriented Zoning District at the current Town Yard on Lewis Street. It would allow for new uses for the land if the town moves the Town Yard in the future.

Another zoning amendment would allow for elderly housing at the vacant Franciscsan Center on River Road.

A number of requests seek to renovate or replace existing town facilities. A $400,000 request from Maria Maggio, acting Plant and Facilities director, aims to rebuild the high school’s tennis courts.

A $3.2 million request is also coming to voters to redesign and rebuild paved areas around Doherty Middle School ahead of the anticipated construction of the Cormier Youth Center, which will be built behind the school.