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Zoning bylaws and effective planning, once the pillars of successful and welcome community development, have in Andover become arbitrary and dangerous levers in the hands of people and organizations both within and outside of the town. Meanwhile, residents who supported their community, raised their families here, and made Andover a desirable place to live, suddenly find themselves witnesses to neighborhood destruction, all while being ignored by town representatives and being disparaged by outside developers. This situation is unconscionable.

In response, citizens from across Andover have united to form The Andover Neighborhood Association as a means to get the Andover planning course back on track. We want to begin the process of neighborhood healing while still supporting appropriate development that doesn't put Andover families' health and well-being at risk. Therefore, we call for the following actions:

1 Change in leadership in the Planning & Economic Development Department

The Planning & Economic Development Department has shown little regard for the resident to whom its decisions impact. Such recent project failures also signal key management problems in the department that must be addressed and remediated immediately.

2 Elimination of an appointed Planning Board in favor of an elected one

A planning board that is unaccountable to residents makes decisions with little regard to residents. An elected planning board would never have approved the Elm Street development, which has had severe and destructive neighborhood impact. We are calling for an amendment to the charter.

3 Resignation of Selectman Paul Salafia

The ethics complaint filed against Mr. Salafia regarding his relationship with a developer calls into question the integrity of the planning processing, especially given the ongoing development problems around town. We do not believe he can be impartial. Moreover, his lack of responsiveness to the concerns of Elm Street neighborhood residents, compared with his peers on the Board of Selectman, only fans the flames of our apprehensions.

4 Establishment of an independent commission to review zoning loopholes

Zoning loopholes that allow commercial properties in residential neighborhoods must be eliminated along with subjective zoning measurements. This is highlighted by polar opposite interpretations of "preserve the towns residential character" between the town's planning groups and the Elm Street residents. Is three calendar months of blasting followed by months of rock crushing not impacting "residential character"? If not, then what is detrimental? We need to form an independent, zoning bylaw study committee.

5 Investigation by the Attorney General of Massachusetts into Andover planning

Conflicting and modified documents among developers and town officials, including earth removal estimates around Elm Street, drive us to question the veracity of the planning process post-approval, which often presents a greater follow-on risk to Andover neighborhoods.

6 Creation of a set communication standards

The presence of blasting came as a surprise to nearly all Elm Street neighborhood residents. Equally-surprising was the planning department and board decision to approve blasting, once again, unbeknownst to nearly all nearby residents. Once the blasting began, a majority of the residents did not receive notifications, schedules, etc. We also expect town leaders, managers, and employees to respond to widespread resident concerns.

7 Formation of clear and measurable safety provisions for residents

The blasting on Elm Street not only frightened many residents - the explosion impact could be felt as far away as downtown - but it also led to cracks and other property damage. The town was not proactive in what residents could do protect themselves from blasting, noise, emissions, and remediation. Once the rock crushing began, which was not part of the initial approval, the town did not have the equipment to monitor and manage noise and vibration levels, which often lasts throughout entire days and remains ongoing.

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