Brian Mills, left, chairman of the Andover Board of Selectmen, speaks Saturday at the special town meeting at the Town Hall. Seated, from left, are Selectman Justin Thacker, Treasurer Amber Cooper and Town Clerk Melinda Averill. Thirty-six residents approved amendments to ordinances and authorized the selectmen to apply for a federal grant to rehabilitate the town’s tennis court and recreation area. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

ANDOVER — A majority of the 36 residents at Saturday’s special town meeting voted against having an electronic messaging sign, some saying it didn’t fit the character of the town or wasn’t necessary.

“Here we have this beautiful village and of course we want to keep that feel,” Joan Forrester said, “you know, (avoiding) blinking signs in our dark sky area.”

She said, though, that it was also important that residents be informed about town events ahead of time.

Brian Mills, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said before the vote that he had “mixed opinions” about an electronic sign, and he found it “troubling that we have to have a sign to get people here (at the town meetings).”

Andover Planning Board member Peggy Madigan, standing background, speaks Saturday about amendments to Planning Board ordinances during a special town meeting at the Town Hall. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

After the meeting he said he voted against it because “it doesn’t fit the character of the town.”

Selectman Justin Thacker favored the proposal, saying “with the sign and the ordinance (for the sign) we’re hoping that that will improve communication with our citizens to at least answer the question, ‘How come you guys aren’t letting us know in a timely manner when the meetings are; the public meetings are, or announcements?’


“So, we figure between electronics, social media, the internet, with mailings, with a sign, there is really nothing else we can do other than rent an airplane that has a banner flying behind it,” Thacker said.

The purchase would have been paid with $25,000 from the town’s $50,000 allotment of the American Rescue Plan Act.

Town Treasurer Amber Cooper said the town has used $3,500 so far.

“So … the way that AARPA funds work, they have to be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024, and spent by Dec. 31, 2026,” Cooper said. The town has the ability to change what they to use the money for.

“So, if you voted for the $25,000 that number would no longer be designated to the Town Office (renovations),” she said.

In other business, voters approved amending the building permit ordinance to allow the code enforcement officer to issue building permits, as well as the Planning Board. The amendment also eliminated wording that said a permit shall be issued within 30 days of acceptance.


Andover residents vote at Saturday’s special town meeting to approve amendments to ordinances and to authorize selectmen to apply for a $1 million federal grant to rehabilitate the town’s tennis court and recreation area. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

Thacker said the reason for making the changes was that prior to their recent hiring of CEO Timothy Johnson, the town did not have “authorized individuals who could issue permits outside of new septic tanks.

“There was no way we could render a decision within a months’ time. … because we’ve had such a turnover with so many different CEOs. It seems to make sense to remove that stipulation simply because there was no way we could carry it out.”

Another amendment eliminated the duty of assigning street names to the Planning Board.

“The Planning Board doesn’t want to have a part in that anymore,” Town Clerk Melinda Averill said. “Right now, they are a part of it along with the addressing officer, Lynda Airhart.”

Townspeople also authorized the Select Board to apply for a $1 million grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund to rehabilitate the town tennis court and recreation complex on South Main Street.

“We voted for (the tennis court) in 1979 or 1980, when the town of Andover voted to accept $15,400 from the state of Maine to build a tennis court,” Mills said. “That designated that property is basically a recreational complex property for life.”

Thacker recommended the town approve the grant application because, as someone with children, he and other residents need safe recreational areas for their children to play, and a good recreational area makes the town more attractive for families with children.

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