Second Chance For Public Comment On LCD Bylaw Changes


The Manchester-by-the-Sea Planning Board will continue to take comments from the public on the proposed changes to the town’s zoning bylaws when it meets on Monday, March 28. 

The zoning bylaw changes are focused on the Limited Commercial District, which consists of the area north of Route 128. 

The Planning Board had planned to close out the public hearing and maybe even vote on the bylaw changes at its February 28 meeting.  But when several residents attending the meeting, including some town officials, said they had trouble accessing the Zoom meeting the board decided to continue the public hearing until March 28.  “If our town moderator had trouble (accessing the meeting), I‘d have concerns,” said Planning Board member Sarah Creighton.  “There’s no reason to have a protest that this is improperly posted.” 

Town Moderator Alan Wilson had said that he had trouble opening the Zoom meeting.  

“I would suggest, given the problems people had with connecting, that it probably would be a good idea to continue the public hearing,” said Wilson, “and have another session where everybody is given full access without any problem.” 

While more than 40 people did attend the meeting, several others said they had trouble getting the Zoom meeting to open.  Only about five residents commented during the public hearing. 

Continuing the public hearing until March 28 means the Planning Board will probably have to vote on the bylaw changes at that meeting, once the public hearing is closed.  The board is looking to get the bylaw changes on the warrant for the Annual Spring Town Meeting.  The warrant closes for the April Town Meeting on March 18. 

In the February 28 meeting, Planning Board member Gary Gilbert presented a report on the bylaw changes.  He explained that the reason for the changes is to streamline the process and open opportunities for development in the sections of the Limited Commercial District west of Pine Street and east of School Street.  

Approval of the proposed zoning change would still require that Cell Signaling obtain a special permit (not as a matter of right) from the Planning Board.  The changes to the LCD by laws would allow the following uses upon issuance of a special permit by the Planning Board.

Allow laboratories east of School Street.  

Allow buildings in the LCD to be built to 55 feet tall.  

Allow tanks, HVAC equipment, solar panels and other similar structures to exceed the maximum roof level.  

Remove the minimum lot width of 500 feet.  

Change the maximum building coverage of the lot from 20 to 40 percent and set the maximum impervious surface of the lot to 60 percent.  

Allow a special permit from the Planning Board to reduce setback requirements. The usual setbacks are 150 feet from any street and 100 feet from the property lot line.  


All the specific proposed changes to the Limited Commercial District bylaws can be found on the town’s website. 

Sandy Rogers of 82 Old Essex Road said that these changes were being pushed through too quickly.  

“I would like to know if there has been a study done on the LCD,” she asked, “and the impact on the environment … This impacts our watershed dramatically.” 

Planning Board member Sarah Creighton said the board was taking comments on the proposed regulations but was not answering questions on any specific project. 

“Any specific project would have a site plan review as part of its Special Permit, which is when the questions you are raising would be asked,” said Creighton. 

Su Mittermaier of 38 Sea St. said she hoped the changes to the setbacks would not affect the buffer of trees between any new construction and Route 128.  Gilbert assured her that maintaining the green corridor along Route 128 was important to several members of the Planning Board. 

Ric Rogers of 82 Old Essex Road said, “You are opening a door to an entirely different way of thinking about this area, so I think that taking the time and doing this right is more important than trying to meet a Town Meeting (deadline).” 

Creighton responded that “the Planning Board had been discussing zoning changes for many months,” and that all the zoning changes would be posted on the town’s website soon. 

The March 14 regular PB meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. but the hearing on the bylaw changes is scheduled for March 28 at 7 p.m.

limited commercial district, planning board, sarah creighton, sandy rogers, su mittermaier, alan wilson, ric rogers