Gar Morse

Dear Manchester Residents,

I am running for a position on the Planning Board.  I respect all the citizens who volunteer for positions in town government.  In other boards where I have served, I have been open to new ideas and been willing to question accepted ways of operating.  I have lived in MBTS for over 40 years and I have served on the DIP Committee and the Winthrop Field Committee.  I have also been a trustee of the Manchester-Essex Conservation Trust for 30 years.  I am friends with a number of the selectmen and the town moderator.  I enjoy telling them what to do, and they sometimes listen.

I believe our town master plan should not be a static document but should be subject to regular review and change by the planning board (and other boards) with citizen input.  Our 40B problem may be in part due to inadequate understanding by the citizens of the town over the last few years.  We need to educate folks deliberately and welcome their input in advance of the moment when time runs out and we may not have a choice about what goes on in our town.  As the owner of a few apartments in town that could be called “affordable,” I know that we should not fear that this type of housing threatens the character of the town as long as it is developed reasonably.

I have experience in commercial real estate, including buying sites and developing rental residential projects in Boston, Cambridge, and Quincy.  My company is usually in the capital and debt part of the team, but we have been deeply involved in the entitlement, design, and construction process for about 700 apartments plus street-level retail in the last seven years.  Most of those projects also had an affordable component.  We have also developed 800,000 square feet of retail projects during that time.  All of the sites we have developed have been re-purposed “burdened” sites that had to be remediated or obsolete industrial properties that had to be cleaned up.  They all worked out fine.  We have also owned many satisfactory office buildings over the years.

I have used consultants, but I am often skeptical about their advice and I don’t believe principals (or citizens) should accept consultant reports without asking a lot of questions.  I hope the reworking of the zoning code will produce a readable, user-friendly version.  We should accept nothing less.   

I know the Planning Board job is a demanding one, and I admit that it scares me a bit.  Fortunately, you have a good list of candidates to choose from.  Please vote.