MBTS Planning Board Finalizes Proposed LCD Bylaw Changes


The Manchester-by-the-Sea Planning Board made a couple of adjustments to the Limited Commercial District (LCD) zoning bylaw changes at its meeting on Monday night. 

Monday’s meeting was a continuation of the public comment hearing started on February 28.  It was extended until Monday when some of the participants on the Zoom call said they had trouble accessing the meeting.  More than 50 residents attended Monday’s meeting. 

Monday’s meeting gave anyone unable to attend the earlier meeting a chance to weigh in with comments about the proposed bylaw changes.  The LCD is the area north of Route 128. 

Planning Board member Gary Gilbert gave an overview of the proposed changes and the reasons behind them. But one new addition to the changes drew several comments from the public. 

At the last meeting, the board had agreed to add the area east of School Street to being open to the development of “laboratories and establishments devoted to scientific research and development,” by special permit from the Planning Board.  The area west of Pine Street is already approved for similar development. 

But the latest version of the changes now included the area between Pine and School streets.  

“That is an extreme concern,” said Sandy Rogers of 82 Old Essex Road.  She said the land between Pine and School streets was “environmentally sensitive.” 

“I was very surprised tonight to see the inclusion of the LCD between Pine Street and School Street,” said George Davis of Woodholm Road.  “I’m very concerned about the implications of that from an environmental point of view.”  

Planning Board member Christopher Olney said that most of the land between Pine and School streets was environmentally protected land, so it was a moot point since very little of the land could ever be developed.  

The board voted 7-0 to drop the clause in the bylaw change that included the area between Pine and School streets. 

The other area of the bylaw changes that drew many comments was on the height regulations. The board had agreed to allow buildings in the LCD to be 55 feet tall, with an additional 15 feet allowed for towers, tanks, HVAC equipment, solar panels and similar roof-top equipment. 

But several people spoke against those heights, especially for the area west of School Street. 

“There is some relative high ground within this area,” said Davis.  “I don’t have a problem with the idea of the building height. But then I’m picturing what if that building height is on top the high point within this area.” 

Lorraine Iovanni of 20A Pine Street pointed out that buildings that exceed 150 feet above sea level may have to get clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration, particularly if the buildings may be in the flight paths of Beverly Regional Airport. 

Rogers said that, while the intention for the building height changes was for commercial labs, it would apply to any commercial building.  “I think that needs to be clarified for people, so they understand it,” said Rogers.  

Rogers added that if the Chapter 40B project proposed off School Street disappears, a commercial project could replace it and be allowed to build to 55 feet tall.  

The Chapter 40B project proposed by developer Geoffrey Engler would be just east of School Street.  

“I think people raised valid concerns about” the height allowance west of School Street, said Planning Board member Mary Foley. 

“We won’t accidentally let someone build at the highest point of a site,” said member Gary Gilbert.  “The highest point doesn’t usually have a large enough footprint for a large building.” 

While some of the board said they were OK with the height changes applying to both east of School Street and west of Pine Street, member Christine Delisio was not. 

“For the past few years, when we did talk about the LCD, it was only east of School Street,” said Delisio.  “So, I think it is only appropriate that we make this only applicable to east of School Street.” 

The board eventually voted 7-0 to limit the increased heights to east of School Street.  

Several people spoke in favor of the zoning changes.  Peter Crabtree of 9 Windemere Park and Davis said the town needs the additional tax revenue that new development in the LCD would provide.  Dennison Hall of 20 Masconomo Street said that growing the tax base in a responsible manner was key to keeping the town’s tax rate under control. 

The board voted 7-0 to send the LCD zoning bylaw changes to the warrant for the April 25 Town Meeting.  


planning board, limited commercial district, manchester, lorraine iovanni, peter crabtree, mary foley, geoffrey engler, sandy rogers, dennison hall, christopher olney, gary gilbert, christine delisio, george davis