Opportunity knocks…will we listen?


To the Editor,

On April 25th, the citizens of Manchester-by-the-Sea will once again come together to decide important issues for our beautiful coastal Community. One of those issues is Warrant Article 11 to decide whether our Community will support proposed Zoning By-Law Amendments that would allow the existing “Limited Commercial District” (“LCD”) in the area east of School Street to be modified to facilitate the re-development of the gravel quarry off Atwater Avenue. The proposed Amendments seek to include Research & Development facilities and laboratories within the permitted use in the LCD in much the same way that exists in the current LCD west of Pine Street, which currently supports Gordon College’s science programs. This is precisely the type of development contemplated by the Town’s 2019 Master Plan. The proposed changes also include modest height, setback, lot width and coverage modifications. Significantly, Warrant Article 11 would not affect the Town’s Planning Board’s discretion to deny any Special Permit for the LCD if they determine it is not in the Town’s best interests. 

A local family and owner of an international life science company, Cell Signaling Technologies, Inc. (“CST”), has identified an abandoned, underutilized 40-acre site within the LCD adjacent to the Manchester Athletic Club that formerly operated as a gravel quarry for its proposed re-development. The first step to facilitate CST’s plans requires the passage of Warrant Article 11. Having spent the better part of the past 30 years representing clients with the environmental assessment, remediation, and successful re-development of abandoned and underutilized properties throughout the U.S., I fully support this first step to advance CST’s proposal. By every measure, CST’s proposal presents a remarkable opportunity for the Town. First, CST’s proposed re-development would require a comprehensive environmental assessment of existing conditions by competent Environmental Professionals to determine whether any remediation obligations exist. Second, CST has engaged a team of experienced real estate professionals to respectfully and honestly engage with the Community leaders, environmental groups, and citizens alike to solicit input on how thoughtful environmental re-development can achieve a win-win arrangement. Third, the Town’s considerable existing and future financial obligations (currently estimated to be $85MM) reflect a significant need for capital that can only be generated by either growing our tax base (i.e., supporting projects like CST) or increasing property taxes. The Finance Committee estimates that CST’s proposal could generate $800k to $1MM annually in new revenue, without placing significant cost burdens on Town resources. Each of the foregoing stand in marked contrast to the proposed Shingle Place Hill 40B project. Finally, CST’s proposed redevelopment will bring both high paying STEM jobs and offer unique opportunities to the Town’s youth in the form of internships in the dynamic Life Sciences field. Consider the overwhelmingly positive impact of Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute and New England Biolabs on their respective communities, and you will appreciate the remarkable opportunity before us. 

Opportunity knocks. We should listen. 

Michael P. Carvalho, Esq., Manchester