Draft Zoning Changes for Village Tackles Housing Shortage

Public hearings on August 9 and September 13

By Ken Wells

The Andover Planning Board is tackling the challenging housing crunch that many are experiencing in Andover.

In an article published in the July issue of The Andover Beacon, the grave problems caused by our region’s shortage of workforce housing were explained in some detail. [You can read the July article at AndoverBeacon.com/index.php/43984.

In short, new workers such as recent graduates cannot afford to rent or buy a place to live in our town, even if they accept one of the many decent entry-level jobs being offered by companies in our area. They therefore have little option but to move away from New Hampshire, and it is likely that companies may also move elsewhere to meet their labor needs.

The current housing shortage has been decades in the making and is caused by our ordinances that prevent the construction of anything but single-family housing – the most expensive option. Surrounding towns have similar restrictions and the same problems. 

Essentially the only loophole for creating apartments in Andover has been through “accessory dwelling units,” which allow homeowners to carve out a “mother-in-law” apartment from an existing single-family residence. This has not resulted in sufficient numbers of satisfactory homes being created for young folks and their families, and our existing restrictions have prevented the market from meeting the demand.

Therefore, the Planning Board is proposing the following changes, which will be up for public hearing and discussion at 7 PM on Tuesday, August 9, and Tuesday, September 13, at Town Hall.

First, the words “constructed by interior alteration of an existing residence” have been struck from the description of the type of apartments allowed in Andover. 

Second, general farming and forestry continue to be allowed, as always, in the Forest and Agriculture (FA) and the Agriculture and Residential (AR) as well as Rural Residential (RR) zones, but the Village zone is limited to “Horticulture, vegetable gardens, small flocks of hens (less than 25) and personal pets (ponies, lambs, etc.)”  

Third, and most significantly, “Only one building for dwelling (Single family, multi-family, or apartment building) may be constructed on any lot in the Village or Rural Residential zones” changed. This change allows the creation of housing other than single-family dwelling units.

A few further details preserve the requirements for set-backs and clarify how driveways may be shared, and provide at least one parking space for each dwelling unit.

Copies of the current draft ordinance may be obtained at Town Hall or viewed online at AndoverBeacon.com/index.php/44097.