Manchester-By-The-Sea MBTA Zoning Task Force Tackles Housing Development Zoning

In a meeting of the Manchester-By-The-Sea MBTA Zoning Task Force, members and the public engaged in a examination and discussion of potential overlay districts aimed at housing development. The debate centered around the modeling of zoning parameters, the inclusion of several areas within these potential districts, and the impact of rezoning on the town’s character and infrastructure. Public comments underscored concerns about traffic, environmental implications, and the balance between growth and preservation.

The task force scrutinized different areas for their suitability as overlay districts, which would set the stage for future housing developments. Among the discussed areas, the Pine Street project stood out as a considerable candidate, with over 21 acres proposed for rezonation. The motion to accept Pine Street as one of the zones faced debate over unit counts and developmental impacts, highlighting the need for a balanced approach. Concerns were also voiced regarding the timeline and the urgency to make concrete proposals for the upcoming planning board meeting.

Further discussions encompassed the Summer Street area, proposed as another overlay district spanning roughly six acres. Task force members debated the inclusion of specific properties and aimed to curtail larger developments that could drastically alter the area’s landscape. The task force underscored the importance of understanding the geographies of all proposed districts prior to decision-making.

Desmond Street was another focal point, with a proposed district described as L-shaped, aimed at focusing on existing developments while avoiding larger properties. The estimated 5.7 acres of the area prompted debates around the potential impact of incremental increases in the proposed districts.

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Additionally, the inclusion of the Brady property and Cap’n Storage in the zoning plan was deliberated. Initial analysis showed zero units for this area, which raised concerns and led to discussions about the need for resolving technical issues and potentially considering alternative parcels.

The task force acknowledged the importance of community input, the precision of data on existing and potential units, and the commitment to holding community forums to address residents’ concerns. A discussion about the zoning regulations’ interaction with state laws, such as the Wetland Protection Act, emphasized the need for compliance with existing environmental protections while developing zoning regulations.

Public comments further enriched the dialogue, with residents raising issues about traffic, the impact of development on the town’s character, and concerns about land usage, density, and parking requirements. Flooding and conservation regulations were also brought to the task force’s attention, stressing the necessity to consider these factors in zoning decisions.

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In the course of the meeting, the potential rezoning of land near Gordon College was brought to the fore, with discussions touching upon the college’s interest in developing housing on its land, the impact on the town’s infrastructure, and ensuring alignment with zoning and conservation regulations. The task force considered the implications of including the college’s property in the rezoning proposal, particularly regarding the town’s water supply and community opposition.

The task force also discussed the creation of overlay districts and the implications of allowing property owners to choose between applying under the base district or the overlay district. The conversation focused on the potential impact on residential areas and the need for equitable consideration of all areas. Specific concerns related to the impact on individual houses and lot sizes were raised, alongside the need for a cushion in unit allocations to accommodate potential variations.

The meeting concluded with plans for community outreach and public walks in the Pine Street district to ensure clear and consistent communication with the public. The task force also proposed establishing a three-person committee to review design guidelines and addressed the progress of the outreach committee, including feedback from the public and updates to frequently asked questions.

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Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Town Administrator:
Gregory Federspiel
Zoning Board Officials:
Chris Olney, Sarah Mellish, Michael Pratt, Garlan Morse, Ann Harrison, Susan Philbrick, Sandy Bodmer-Turner, Richard Smith, Dennison Hall, Gail Hunter (Town Administrator)

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