Just Say No! (To the proposed MBTA Zoning changes)


To the Editor,

Please vote no on the coming zoning changes that are being pushed on us by the Commonwealth simply because there is a train station in town.  The states mandate will seriously degrade our town by increasing housing density to 15 Units per acre for 37 acres in areas both within half a mile of the train station and elsewhere.  Why is this good policy? Some say it’s for “Climate Change” and somehow, by increasing density in our semi-rural community, we will miraculously cut carbon because people can take a train for all their needs.  As we all know, living in Manchester generally requires a car so the argument is specious. 

Some will say we need to change our zoning to get grants from the state.  In the past 10 years Manchester has reportedly received two grants for $600K from the sources threatened to be withheld (Massworks, Housing Choice and Local Capital Projects Fund).  We got $100K to study hooking up to the Beverly Sewer System (huh?) and $500K for harbor dredging, much of which was paid by the Feds. Now our town officials are scrambling to come up with additional reasons to ask for the grant money to prove in this bad idea.  Why haven’t we already applied for those for those funds? 

Our town was incorporated nearly 400 years ago and grew organically for nearly 300 years without any zoning!  The town, in a self-directed way, had already created itself following an intelligent “master plan” that evolved over hundreds of years based on the local geography and the insights of its citizens with good intentions and based on civil respect.  Sadly, our innate intelligence is becoming usurped by state autocrats who think they know what is best for our towns. Massachusetts is already the fourth densest state in the country.  Being #1 is probably not a good goal.

The proposed density from the state mandated zoning will result in an increase in “as of right” housing units of more than 20 percent, (~550 dwellings). If each dwelling has only one child, the increase on the demand on the school system will be enormous and probably create a need for new schools which will cost tens of millions.  This is a bad trade off.  Also, there is no “affordability” component to the MBTA zoning change either so additional units will increase the need for more affordable units which we already can’t meet per the State 40B laws. We just voted to spend our town money to fight a 40B development, let’s not create a bigger problem than we already have.  The citizens of Manchester must come together to vote against these arbitrary and capricious rules.  Stay informed and stay tuned.

Jon Keefe


jon keefe, commonwealth day, beverly sewer system, manchester, rail transport, massworks, housing choice and local capital projects fund