MECT’s Appeal for Standing in Shingle Hill Has Been Denied, but it Will Support “Ten Persons Group” in Proceedings


To the Editor, 

It’s back….This week brought us one step closer to participating in the continued defense of Shingle Place Hill.

About a year ago, the town of Manchester was applauding the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) decision to deny the comprehensive permit for a 40B development at Shingle Place Hill - something hugely inappropriate for many reasons, but especially because it would abut the Wilderness Conservation Area on School Street and subject conservation resources to environmental ruin.

Since then, the issue has been out of the limelight and slowly moving through an appeal process.  After the ZBA’s denial of the permit, the developer appealed the decision to the state Housing Appeals Committee (HAC).  The Town of Manchester filed motions to support the ZBA’s decision, and MECT filed two motions to participate in the proceedings as an “intervener”. 

Why two motions to intervene?  Our commitment to support the town’s decision and some contingency planning.  The HAC has a history of not granting “intervener” status to environmental organizations and, in fact, has not supported environmental causes for intervention in these types of proceedings.  The second intervener motion was filed by a “Ten Persons Group” (TPG) in accordance with HAC rules, and the citizen group includes MECT trustees and other concerned community members. 

MECT was denied intervener status last week, which was no surprise given the predilection of the HAC, but the TPG intervener status was approved.  The HAC has also ruled that MECT may assist the TPG in its advocacy. 

The importance of this ruling in favor of the TPG cannot be understated, it is the first time that HAC has granted intervention to a group seeking to protect the environment.  This sets a precedent for future appeals, underscoring the importance and impact of MECT’s land defense activities.  Under the new Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC) created this spring under the Healey-Driscoll administration, the HAC’s mission is to provide an impartial forum to resolve conflicts arising from the siting of new affordable housing.  Perhaps the new cabinet-level secretariat of the EOHLC can ease the tensions between the state’s housing needs and the federal and state goals to protect our environment by protecting the wetlands and woodlands at the community level.

What happens next?  A public pre-hearing conference is scheduled for Aug 15, 2023.  Both the TPG and MECT are allowed to attend in a limited capacity.  We anticipate learning the schedule for an HAC site visit and the date of the first public meeting in the appeal process (expected to take place here in Manchester-by-the-Sea). 

MECT will be there to support the town and the Ten Persons Group every step of the way, and the Housing Appeals Committee appeal process is just the next part of this journey.  In the meantime, we continue to support the community’s efforts to find more appropriate and truly affordable solutions for the local need for housing. 

Now that you are caught up, please know this fight is far from over, and MECT will continue to both defend our environment and assist the town in defending the ZBA's wise and thoughtful decision.


Greg Crockett


(Manchester Essex Conservation Trust, Trustee and Designated Representative of the” Ten Persons Group”)

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