July 11, 2023
- Select Board approves Local Initiative Program application for project proposed by Andover Community Trust at 13 Mary Lou Lane;
- Approves reallocation of funding received by the Town through the American Rescue Plan Act to support construction of the Haggetts Pond Rail Trail and pedestrian safety project; and
- Approves 10-year Voluntary Contribution Agreement with Phillips Academy.
ANDOVER, MA – The Andover Select Board held its first meeting of the fiscal year on Tuesday, July 11 in the School Committee Conference Room at the Andover Public Schools Administrative Offices. An application and proposal from Andover Community Trust to develop a single-family affordable home, revisions to the American Rescue Plan Act funding framework, and a Voluntary Contribution Agreement with Phillips Academy were among the topics considered, and ultimately approved, by the Board during the meeting.
13 Mary Lou Lane Local Initiative Program Project
Reviewing the subject in a second reading, the Select Board considered a proposal by Andover Community Trust (ACT) for the development of a single-family affordable home at 13 Mary Lou Lane through the State’s 40B Local Initiative Program (LIP). Citing the well-documented need for affordable housing opportunities in Andover and throughout Massachusetts, the Board voted to approve the project while acknowledging concerns raised by residents of the neighborhood.
The project was initially discussed during the Board’s meeting on June 12. During that meeting, ACT Executive Director Denise Johnson provided an overview of the proposed project. According to Johnson, the single-family home will be two stories, approximately 1,400 square feet, and include 3 bedrooms. Families earning up to eighty percent of the area median income (AMI), which is currently $94,650 for a family of four, would be eligible to apply for purchase of the property. The project would represent the fourteenth affordable home developed by ACT in Andover.
Johnson also previously noted that 13 Mary Lou Lane is a non-conforming lot, meaning that it does not meet certain zoning conditions generally required for development of a parcel. The property is located in a “Single Residence A” (SRA) district, where the standard lot size is 15,000 square feet. The lot that ACT is proposing to develop is approximately half-sized, at 7,560 square feet. It also does not conform with street setbacks established in the Town’s Zoning Bylaw. Affordable homes developed under section 40B are granted more flexibility than market-rate developments, and are not subject to certain zoning regulations, including lot size requirements.
Several residents of Mary Lou Lane spoke during Tuesday’s meeting, expressing concerns related to the development’s impact on the neighborhood. Concerns raised included water table and drainage issues, reduced sightlines caused by the positioning on the proposed home, traffic and roadway safety issues, and impact to the aesthetic and character of the neighborhood due to the nonconformity of the lot.
Prior to voting to approve the filing of the LIP application, members of the Select Board acknowledged the input from neighbors, but noted that concerns about neighborhood impacts will be thoroughly vetted at subsequent phases of approval process, and specifically, during the Zoning Board of Appeals’ review of the project.
ACT’s successful track record in creating affordable homeownership opportunities in town and the distinct need for more affordable housing in Andover were among the considerations noted by members of the Board that voted to approve the LIP application.
Given the Select Board’s approval, ACT will now submit the project to the state’s Office of Housing and Livable Communities which will review the site, financing, and other elements of the project for approval. From there, the project will be forwarded to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The ZBA is expected to require a thorough interdepartmental review prior to considering approval.
If the project clears all steps for approval, the home at 13 Mary Lou Lane will be constructed between 2023 and 2025, with the selected homeowner expected to take ownership of the property by the summer of 2025.
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding Framework
Town Manager Andrew Flanagan presented a proposed revision to the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding Framework, which serves a guide for the Town’s expenditure of $10,867,057 in one-time federal funds allocated to the Town of Andover. The existing framework was approved by the Select board in winter of 2022.
The revised framework proposes to increase allocations for two major priorities of the community: the creation of an accessible rail trail at Haggetts Pond and improvements aimed at promoting pedestrian safety.
$725,000 will be reallocated to fund the rail trail project, which will augment the $500,000 in grant funding awarded to the Town through the MassTrails Program for construction of the Haggetts Pond Rail Trail. More information about this project will be made available later this summer. When complete, this project will represent the first Town-sponsored accessible and ADA compliant trail in Andover.
The revised framework will also reallocate $200,000 for pedestrian improvements, providing funding that will enable the Town to implement recommendations that emerge from the ongoing Road Safety Audit (RSA) of Elm Square and additional assessments of key intersections that the Town intends to initiate in the coming months.
The reallocation was necessary as the deadlines for obligating and spending ARPA funds come closer to expiring. The United States Treasury requires municipalities to obligate funds by December 31, 2024, and to expend funds by December 31, 2026. Funding that is not expended under this timeline would revert back to the federal government.
In summary, $700,000 of the total reallocation was from the reserve account that was established as part of the original approval of the ARPA plan. The additional $225,000 was transferred from other components of the original plan in which funding is no longer needed or will be unable to be spent within the timeframe stipulated by the United States Treasury. Additional reallocations may be necessary as needs change and the deadline to commit and spend ARPA funds approaches. It is anticipated that additional funding will be reallocated from categories from which the Town does not anticipate using the initially budgeted funding amount.
For more information on the Town’s ARPA plan, visit andoverma.gov/arpa
The Select Board voted unanimously to approve the revised ARPA funding framework.
Phillips Academy Voluntary Contribution Agreement
The Select Board voted to approve a 10-year Voluntary Contribution Agreement with Phillips Academy. The voluntary agreement will result in $5,238,135 in revenue that will be generated through annual payments through Fiscal Year 2032.
Phillips Academy owns 144 properties in Andover, which are exempt from taxation under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 59, Section 5. Under the agreement approved by the Select Board on Tuesday, Phillips will make voluntary payments to the Town related to their tax-exempt properties. Agreements of this nature are often referred to as PILOTs (Payments in Lieu of Taxes).
Voluntary Contribution Agreements between the Town and Phillips Academy date back to 2002. This agreement marks the fourth between the two parties.
Phillips Academy’s first payment will total $437,275 and will be increase by 2.7% annually. The payment in the final year of the agreement will be $588,807,
- During the announcement portion of the agenda, Town Manager Andrew Flanagan noted that the Road Safety Audit of the Elm Square intersection is ongoing. It is expected that the preliminary findings from the audit will be provided to the public at the next public forum which is expected to be scheduled in the coming weeks. Flanagan also noted that the Town has purchased 20 radar activated speed signs that will be deployed to strategic locations throughout town, which is anticipated to support the public’s awareness of the new townwide 25 MPH speed limit.
- The Select Board authorized several end-of-year financial transfers. Transfers of $65,000 to Police Personnel Services and $255,000 to Fire Personnel Services from the Compensation Fund (approved by Town Meeting), and $164,000 from the DPW Snow and Ice account to the DPW Solid Waste account were approved.
The full meeting can be viewed online through AndoverTV.
The Select Board will convene for its next meeting on Monday, July 17. The meeting will include a Board workshop to discuss and review the Select Board and Town Manager Strategic Goals and Objectives for the new fiscal year.