Zoning Recodification

Planning Board Seeks to Update Zoning Bylaw

With the Manchester Master Plan recently approved, the Planning Board is ready to begin implementation of the Plan’s recommendations.  Some key recommendations require changes to the Town’s Zoning Bylaw, one of the town’s tools for regulating the use of land, buildings and structures. Specifically, changes to zoning are need to allow more diverse housing options and to allow a greater mix of uses including housing in the Limited Commercial District north of 128, and downtown.

Manchester’s original Zoning Bylaw and map was adopted in 1945. In 1978, after 33 years of additions and revisions, the Bylaw was re-codified and reorganized to provide a more cohesive framework for the regulations. In the forty years since this reorganization, over 80 changes have been made ranging from adding and changing definitions, dimensional requirements, and uses to adding entirely new sections to allow, prohibit or condition new development. Manchester’s Zoning Bylaw today includes regulations based on past, present and sometimes conflicting goals. 

The Town has an opportunity to make its Zoning Bylaw easier to understand and administer and to align its regulations with the Town’s Vision and Master Plan goals.

April Town Meeting approved a capital budget request for $50,000 for a Zoning Recodification and Update.  In May, the Planning Board, after soliciting proposals, secured the services of Mark Bobrowski, of Blatman, Bobrowski & Haverty, LLC of Concord.  Mr. Bobrowski is well prepared for this task having provided these services to more than one hundred Massachusetts municipalities.

The Planning Board will work with Mr. Bobrowski to first address deficiencies and inefficiencies such as numbering, reorganization, deletions, creation of charts, and other cosmetic changes as well changes to reflect new case law or statutes and resolution of internal inconsistencies.

Subsequent meetings will focus on procedural issues such as enforcement, administration, penalties, special permits, variances, site plan review, and powers of boards; use tables and definitions; residential issues including accessory uses, and alternative development by-laws; and commercial issues including parking, landscaping, signs, and environmental standards.

It is anticipated that special Planning Board meetings will be scheduled to meet with Mr. Bobrowski as changes are considered with all meetings posted and open to the public.  When a revised draft has been completed the Planning Board will host a Community Workshop to solicit further input.  Before any Zoning Bylaw is adopted it must first be presented and discussed at a formal Planning Board Hearing and subsequently receive a two thirds affirmative Town Meeting Vote.

The Planning Board looks forward to working with Manchester residents, land and business owners as it considers the most appropriate way to guide land use to meet the community’s needs.  For more information, please contact Sue Brown, Town Planner at 978-525-6436 or browns@manchester.ma.us  .

View the Town's Bylaws: https://www.manchester.ma.us/317/Bylaws-Regulations 
View the Town's Current Zoning Map: http://www.manchester.ma.us/documentcenter/view/649
View the Planning Board's agendas and minutes here: https://www.manchester.ma.us/AgendaCenter 
Subscribe to automatically receive updates here: https://www.manchester.ma.us/list.aspx