Zoom Problems Extend MBTS Planning Board Hearing On LCD Bylaw Changes


Manchester-By-The-Sea residents will get another chance to offer their comments on proposed changes to the town’s zoning bylaws for the Limited Commercial District, after several people had trouble connecting to the Zoom meeting during the Planning Board Monday night. 

The Planning Board had hoped to close out the public hearing and vote on recommending the bylaw changes at the Monday night meeting.  If approved, they would move on to the warrant for the annual Spring Town Meeting.  

But when several members of the public, as well as a couple of town officials, told the Planning Board they had trouble accessing the Zoom meeting, the board decided to continue the public hearing until its March 14 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 Town Moderator Alan Wilson, “and have another session where everybody is given full access without any problem.” 

Planning Board member Gary Gilbert presented a report on the bylaw changes at the start of the public hearing.  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. 

The changes to the LCD bylaws would: 

  • 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. 
  • Allows 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. 

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 public hearing will be continued on March 14.  The Planning Board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. but the hearing will start again at 8 p.m. 

planning board, limited commercial district, manchester, alan wilson, ric rogers, gary gilbert