Planning Board Continues Its Work to Improve Manchester’s Zoning By-Law



Over the past several years, the Planning Board has been working to streamline, reorganize and clarify the Zoning By-Law which regulates permitted land uses in Manchester.  This work, which was overdue and was delayed by the COVID 19 pandemic, has resulted in several changes to reorder the By-Law, delete obsolete sections, and update existing sections to make them more easily understood, current, and legally enforceable.

The June 28, 2023, Special Town Meeting will include three zoning amendments that are administrative in scope.

1)    Replacing Section 12.0 Administration and Procedures with a new section that corrects the November 2022 Town Meeting omission of the Site Plan Review process. In addition, it more fully outlines and details the roles of the Building Inspector, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Planning Board. This section also includes a provision for a “Request for a Reasonable Accommodation” which addresses housing protocols of a handicapped person and compliance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as Site Plan Review for uses that are exempt from zoning restrictions such as religious and educational facilities. The new language provides specific performance standards and criteria to guide the Planning Board in the approval process. All the changes proposed in this newly revised Section 12 have been made on advice of Legal Counsel, with the goal of making Manchester’s Zoning By-Law more up to date and legally enforceable.

2)    If the new Section 12 is approved by Town Meeting, there is no need to consider this proposed simple amendment. However, if the new Section 12 is not passed, this article would simply reinsert the Site Plan Review (Section 6.5) provisions that were deleted at last November’s Town Meeting, and not replaced due to the lateness of the hour. This article would simply reinsert the old language that was deleted. The Planning Board believes that it is imperative that Site Plan Review be included in Manchester’s Zoning By-Law as it is used regularly to oversee development projects that are allowed by right, but require Planning Board review of traffic patterns, stormwater systems and other relevant public safety, health, and welfare issues. 

3)    The third article addresses scrivener’s errors and cross-referencing mistakes that resulted from Town Meeting actions of several years ago.  Special Town Meeting in the fall of 2021 made a series of renumbering provisions.  Regrettably, many of the cross references within the remainder of the Zoning By-Law were not properly transcribed, resulting in wrong references in the Zoning By-Law. This article corrects the problem with proper numbers and correct references to other sections of the By-Law. 

These articles do not change any allowed uses or other zoning intent.

The Planning Board will continue to review, update, and amend the Town’s Zoning By-Law and appreciates the Town’s ongoing support for improving the zoning within Manchester-by-the- Sea. For details on these proposed articles, please consult the Town’s website.

By the Manchester Planning Board

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