Andover Voters Adopt ‘Transportation-Oriented District’

Andover Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski. (Photograph courtesy of Massachusetts School Building Authority.)

The town of Andover will take a page from Haverhill and have its own transportation-oriented district in the town’s center.

Voters at the third night of Andover town meeting approved a bylaw to create the Historic Mills Overlay District. The project would bring housing, back office businesses and other commercial development around the Andover train station, according to Andover Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski.

Andover Selectman Alex Vispoli told WHAV the overwhelming support by voters showed transit-oriented development is “part and parcel with the opportunity.”

“It’s a great opportunity with the train station right there. And the amount of commuters that we have in Andover that commute into Boston and other places on a daily basis, a very heavily used station. And we can see, certainly, the opportunity for shops and restaurants and different facilities that wouldn’t be allowed under the current zoning,” Vispoli said.

And Vispoli said balances are in place to address concerns raised on new housing development leading to, among other things, overcrowded schools.

“The protections are in place. Reviews by the planning board and other boards in town, to really look at whatever may or may not be proposed moving forward,” Vispoli said.

At a Merrimack Valley Economic Development Council gathering Friday, the town manager outlined Andover’s success in creating, what he called “third spaces,” downtown.

“So, we’re doing what we can to create that third space because we know people enjoy Main streets. We know people enjoy coming together and having an ice cream or whatever it is, a cup of coffee, and creating a place to gather,” Stapczynski said. The other two spaces in people’s lives, he explained, are work and home.

WHAV first reported last October a local economic development council known as “Andover Tomorrow” began work to form the new vision for commercial, residential and open spaces in the section of town near the commuter rail and extending to boundaries of Stevens Street-Harding Street-Walnut Avenue, and Chestnut Street-School Street.

In Haverhill, the Railroad Square-Essex Street-Wingate Street area of downtown was designated a transportation-oriented district, which includes housing in converted industrial building.