By Dustin Luca
---- — ANDOVER — Town Meetings will be busy this year, and the deadlines are approaching for residents looking for a spot on the warrants.
A Special Town Meeting will be held Feb. 11, 2013 to vote on raising additional funds for the Bancroft Elementary School construction project. The money is needed because of budget shortfalls
The town will also hold its Annual Town Meeting beginning Monday, April 29 at 7 p.m. The meeting could pave the way for a variety of large and small projects, including replacements for the Ballardvale Fire Station and Town Yard, according to Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski.
It could also consider zoning changes for the existing Town Yard on Lewis Street. A possible zoning change for an elderly housing district in northwest Andover is also on tap, according to Charles Kendrick, co-chair of the Franciscan Housing Overlay District Task Force.
Two articles could also propose minor changes to the Cormier Youth Center construction project. While it hasn’t been determined which meeting they’ll come forward on, Stapczynski said the project’s construction timeline could put them on the Special Town Meeting warrant.
Residents can get on both the special and annual Town Meeting warrants by putting a petition together and submitting it with registered Andover voter signatures, according to Town Clerk Larry Murphy.
To bring an article to Special Town Meeting, a resident must gather 100 signatures and file it with the clerk’s office before Friday, Jan. 11 at 4:30 p.m., when the warrant closes, according to Murphy.
Only 10 signatures are needed to get on the Annual Town Meeting warrant. Necessary paperwork must be filed before the warrant closes on Friday, Jan. 18 at 4:30 p.m., Murphy said.
There are currently two private warrant articles gathering signatures, both targeting Annual Town Meeting. The first article aims to build a 4,050 sidewalk along Highland Road for $635,000, Murphy said.
The other article seeks to raise $60,000 for a water level gauging system on the Shawsheen River at Balmoral Street, by Shawsheen Square, according to Murphy.
Anybody else hoping to put an idea to the voters only has a few weeks left to act, and Murphy said they should touch base with him soon.
“We encourage them to come in and talk about the process, but the papers are available on the town website,” Murphy said.
Voters at this year’s annual town meeting will hear from a number of town boards and departments seeking residential approval for their plans.
Two requests for proposals are currently running for private land owners who are looking to sell their land to the town for either a new Ballardvale Fire Station or Town Yard.
For both of those RFPs, any favorable offers could come before Town Meeting voters, according to Stapczynski.
“We’d have to see how that process goes,” Stapczynski said. “There’s a remote possibility there could be a warrant article for the acquisition of a site. Remote as it is, we’re in the process.”
A separate Annual Town Meeting article is expected to test the waters for changing the existing Town Yard’s zoning on Lewis Street to a form of residential, commercial or mixed use zoning.
A variety of other projects that make up Stapczynski’s capital improvement plan will also appear before the town.
The total value of all the projects is around $10.5 million, and they include work at area schools, land acquisitions and more. Each project will require some form of debt to pay for them.
While each project will get its own discussion, the real focus is, “where are the town’s priorities? And how much debt is acceptable?” Stapczynski said. “That’s really going to be the debate.”
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