North Andover Newsbrief | Week of November 13, 2023

Important Updates:

Monday, November 13
Select Board

Tuesday, November 14
Council on Aging
Revenue Fixed Cost Committee
Middle School building committee
Affordable Housing Trust
Festival Committee
Zoning Board of Appeals

Wednesday, November 15
Public Notice: MVMPO
Merrimack Valley Veterans Collaborative
Kittredge School Building Committee

Library Trustees

Conservation Commission

Thursday, November 16
Merrimack Valley Planning Commission
Historical Commission
Board of Health
School Committee

Saturday, November 18

Commission on Ability Assistance
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2023 North Andover Santa Parade and Tree Lighting Festival

North Andover Santa Parade

The North Andover Santa Parade will be on Saturday, November 25, 2023 at Noon.  The parade starts at the North Andover Middle School and travels down Main Street, turns onto Elm Street, Water Street, and back onto Main Street, ending at Sutton Street. 

Tree Lighting Festival

The North Andover Tree Lighting Festival will take place on Sunday, November 26, 2023 on the Common from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM.  There will be treats and entertainment.  The tree lighting will be at 5 PM. Bring the family and enjoy the festivities!

A message from the Town Manager of North Andover regarding the Town’s Flag Policy

A message from the Town Manager of North Andover regarding the Town’s Flag Policy

After several months of careful review, on Monday, October 16th, the Select Board voted to update all of their policies, including the flag policy, in order to make those policies consistent with applicable case law.

The application for flying of the Palestinian flag, which will be considered by the Board next week, was submitted to the Town six hours prior to its vote on the updated policies. After consultation with counsel, based upon the timing of events and the fact that the new policy was not in effect at the time the application was received, the determination regarding this application will be made under the old policy as required by law.

The prior flag policy specifically allowed a Town resident to submit an application to fly a flag on the Town’s flagpole, resulting in that flagpole being considered a public forum. The recent US Supreme Court decision addressing flag policies in the context of the First Amendment, Shurtleff v. Boston, requires select boards to make content-neutral decisions regarding the raising of flags on flagpoles deemed public forums, unless the Town enacts a policy restricting flag poles to governmental speech. The content or the subject matter of a flag cannot be considered when reviewing an application presented under the old policy. According to the decision in the Shurtleff case, the Town may not prohibit a flag to be flown based on its content, its meaning or its message. This limitation on the Select Board’s discretion indicates that denial of a resident’s flag application under the prior policy places the Town in jeopardy of legal action.

The new policy limits the use of the flagpole to statements of governmental speech only, consistent with the Shurtleff decision. The new policy does not allow a resident to submit an application to raise a flag. Based upon the timing of the circumstances as previously described, this policy does not apply to the flag application currently in discussion. However, this is the last flag application to be considered under the old policy.

At the Select Board meeting discussing the flag petition, the Select Board will hear public comment. Public comment is limited to three minutes per person and will be strictly enforced. Per the Town’s policies, the public comment period is typically 15 minutes. In order to allow comments on this matter, the Chair will extend that time period to one hour.

Public Comment is not a discussion, debate, or dialogue between or among citizens and the Select Board. Rather, it is intended to offer citizens an opportunity to express their opinion on issues of Select Board business. The Select Board is unable to debate with citizens or to give answers to citizen comments and questions during the public comment period. The Select Board has received and read all of the comments that have been submitted via email. Out of respect for our residents, the Board will be asking nonresidents to allow for comments from Town of North Andover residents, North Andover clergy and North Andover business owners first. Order will be maintained during the public comment period in accordance with the Open Meeting Law. Your cooperation is appreciated.