The Actions From MBTS Master Plan 2000


To the Editor,

I read with interest Mr. Russell’s comments on the recently completed Master Plan and its predecessor, Master Plan 2000.  I’m quite familiar with Master Plan 2000, having served on the Board that generated it, and feel that Mr. Russell’s criticism that "its Goal Statements are not a plan" may have missed the point.  Master Plans endeavor to capture, refine and express community sentiment, but plans are aspirational guidelines after all; they are only statements of intent.  Whether they are detailed or general is secondary to whether they can be implemented and succeed.  A plan – regardless of length – must translate into action and be measured by the beneficial changes that it generates.

In defense of Master Plan 2000 I’ve listed abbreviated versions of its five Goal Statements, along with actions taken to advance them:

Goal 1 Preserve the character, scale, charm of the Town...

Goal 3 Make downtown more accessible and attractive; support businesses…

  • 2004 completion of Downtown Improvement Project [DIP], a major reconstruction of Bridge and Summer Streets downtown that included traffic and pedestrian safety measures: poured concrete sidewalks, granite curbing, pedestrian crossings, period light-posts, added parking and a corner sitting-wall to provide a gathering spot and screen the parking lot. 
    (The pedestrian walkway connecting Beach Street and Town Hall parking lot, planned by DIP but not workable at the time, has since been completed, thanks to a collaborative effort by the First Parish Church, local business owners, the Brown Family, and the Town.)
  • To fund DIP, a Planning Board sub-committee raised $2 million with a major state Public Works grant, other grants and many generous individual gifts. 
  • 2004 Planning Board and ConCom completed an Economic Development Plan. 

Goal 2 Protect environmentally sensitive areas; Develop an overlay plan for coastal areas... 

  • Planning Board enforced lapsed Water Resource District Special Permits limiting uses and coverage.

Goal 4 Coastal Areas Overlay: 

  • Town Meeting adopted District ‘E’ 2-acre zoning for new construction in Residential Districts south of Route 127 to reduce the risk of ocean contamination from leaching fields; co-sponsored by ConCom.

Goal 5 Balance growth; Respect quality of life… 

  • During DIP's planning phase, the Board collaborated with Manchester Housing Authority’s Joanne Graves and others to acquire and classify 17 units at 10 and 12 Summer Street as affordable housing.
  • 2005 Town Meeting approved Planning Board’s ‘Inclusionary Housing’ bylaw requiring large developments to provide 10 percent or more affordable units. Four new affordable units were generated.

In addition to effecting Masterplan 2000 Goals, the Planning Board, over two decades, amended the Zoning By-Law regulating Cell Towers; Driveways; Helicopter Landings, Topographical Changes; Windmills; Solar Panels Installations; Regulated Substances; etc. 

I wish the current Planning Board success and satisfaction implementing its new Master Plan. Manchester is well-served by its volunteer boards, committees and dedicated staff and the Planning Board was especially fortunate to have had the wise guidance of Jon Witten who served as Town Planner for four decades before moving on to Town Counsel. 

Carroll Cabot


Mrs. Cabot served on the Manchester Planning Board from 1996 to 2016.