EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 31, 2013

Banner now hangs over Main Street

(Continued)

“It is the happiest day of my life,” Spencer said, “second only to my daughter being born.”

His involvement started in 2004, after he proposed putting up a banner to advertise Andover Day.

He and fellow members of the Andover Business Community Association were told by town officials that since there was nothing in the sign bylaw about banners, they must be illegal.

“It was a very severe reading of the bylaw,” he said.

Rather than take that as a defeat, Spencer worked closely with local attorney Peter Caruso and Jim Kapelson of Kap’s Menswear on a new bylaw that addresses banners.

“I researched every bylaw across the country and wrote it myself,” he said, adding that Andover’s now senior planner, Lisa Schwarz, was instrumental in guiding him through the process of researching and writing a bylaw that would get the necessary approvals.

Once it was written, the bylaw garnered approvals from the Board of Selectmen, Design Review Board, Planning Board and the now-defunct Main Street Committee, among others.

“We went through one committee after another and wore everyone down until we had everybody on our side,” he said.

Then, it was on to Town Meeting — one of the events the banners are intended to promote — where voters in May 2008 approved Spencer’s bylaw.

Then, it was back to selectmen — this time for approval to form a committee that would raise money for poles they initially thought were needed to hang the banners from.

And that’s when the effort stalled because the banner committee couldn’t find a place to mount the poles that wouldn’t interfere with underground utilities.

“We were dead in the water,” Spencer said. “I thought it was over. We couldn’t find a place to put the poles and even if we could, we couldn’t figure out how we were going to raise the money for them.” It was estimated they would cost almost $50,000.

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