Butler's expansion plans in Andover halted

ANDOVER-  The Butler Community College Board of Trustees have responded to Andover Mayor Ben Lawrence’s second veto of their special use permit with a request to remove it from consideration on the City Council’s November 13 meeting agenda.
In a Nov. 9 letter to the Andover City Council members, Mayor and City Manager, Trustees state they will “continue to seek viable solutions” and will “most likely remain” in their current location on the north end of Andover High School until spring 2021, the actual lease maturity date. The college had been working closely with the Andover School District to vacate nearly 18 months early in order to accommodate the school district’s timeline to be in the new high school location by the fall of 2020. The decision to exercise the full term of the lease agreement was made due to the repeated delays in getting the special use permit satisfactorily addressed and approved.
Though approved by the Andover Planning Commission on two occasions, reviewed by the City Council on September 25, and then supported by the Andover City Council most recently on Oct. 30 on a 5-1 vote, Mayor Lawrence maintains his concern that the college’s presence in the Industrial Park on East 13th Street is not appropriate use of the property, a stance he has maintained since first issuing a veto in 2005.  At that time Butler sought to renovate the south portion of the building they had been in since 2003. In 2003, Butler’s special use permit was supported unanimously to establish the college at that site. Due to the education and training Butler provides to workforce, the college maintains it is a viable use of property, a long-time nationally-recognized practice by industrial parks and community colleges across the country.
Andover Superintendent Brett White addressed the City Council and Mayor during their Oct. 30 meeting and shared that a timeline delay could cost the Andover School district upwards of $500,000 of unplanned additional costs. In the college’s letter, the Trustees point out that increased architectural and engineering fees will be incurred by both the college and school district due to the delays by Mayor Lawrence. These costs will be incurred to maintain utilities and construct a stabilizing exterior wall on the college’s portion of the building, originally identified for demolition.  Additional costs will be realized because construction timelines will not be met.  Butler Community College has been a part of the Andover Community since the late 1980s when they began teaching classes at the corner of 21st Street and Andover Road. Trustees added that since locating in the north end of Andover High School in 1992, Butler has contributed $5.7 million to the school district in lease payments, library support, utilities, parking lot repairs and security equipment.  Other financial benefits to Andover include $71,000 in property taxes paid on 20 acres west of the 5000 Building; the tax benefit of 34.5 acres sold by the college on 21st Street currently occupied by Casey’s and residential housing property; the economic impact of faculty and staff purchasing homes in Andover due to their employment with Butler; as well as the economic impact of faculty, staff and student spending in the community.

Editor's note: This decision will likely delay the construction of the new Andover High School because Butler says it will remain in the old building through 2021.