Manchester-by-the-Sea 40R

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Manchester-by-the-Sea 40R


40R Smart Growth Development in the Limited Commercial District

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Many thanks to everyone who shared their vision for Manchester’s Limited Commercial District!

Over 225 people completed the survey about priorities for the area. You can view a summary of the survey results here, and a full list of comments received through the survey here. The survey followed a virtual discussion on September 24 that was attended by nearly 70 people. The session began with an overview of Manchester’s Limited Commercial District and 40R smart growth zoning, followed by a live question and answer session. If you missed the session, you can view the presentation here. A recording of the meeting is available here, or click here for a summary of questions and responses.

The project team has also conducted stakeholder focus groups and interviews; a summary and key takeaways can be found here.

The project team will use this input to develop zoning concepts that will be shared with the community in December. Stay tuned for more information!

About the Project

Manchester is embarking on a planning process to rethink its Limited Commercial District (the area north of Route 128) and to proactively plan for mixed-use, mixed-income development. This would advance two principal goals of the 2019 Master Plan: increase Town revenue through planned development in that area of town, and support a diversity of housing options throughout town.

To achieve these goals, the town is exploring a 40R Smart Growth Overlay District, which is a state program that encourages cities and towns to implement zoning that allows compact, mixed-income, by-right development in areas with existing or planned infrastructure and adequate access to services. A 40R district must be primarily residential, must allow a certain amount of housing density, and must include at least 20% affordable units; it can include comprehensive development and design standards to ensure that new development is consistent with the town’s vision for the area. As an incentive, the state makes payments directly to towns that have successfully adopted a 40R district, as well as additional payments after new housing is built in the area.

A project working group, made up of representatives from Boards and Committees in town, will take an active role in guiding communications and assisting with community outreach. Manchester has partnered with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), Greater Boston’s regional planning agency, to provide technical assistance for this project.


  • September 2020: Vision and goals for the district
  • October-November 2020: Zoning concept and initial recommendations
  • December 2020 - January 2021: Draft zoning language and design guidelines
  • April 2021: Zoning will be considered at Town Meeting

At each of these stages, there will be virtual engagement to share progress and to seek feedback from the community. See the “updates” section at the top of this page for information on upcoming opportunities to learn more and share your thoughts.

Past Events

Virtual Open House
September 24, 2020

To kick off the planning process, the Town held a virtual discussion on September 24. Many thanks to the nearly 70 people who attended! The session began with an overview of Manchester’s Limited Commercial District and 40R smart growth zoning, followed by a live question and answer session.

Planning Board 40R Community Discussion
September 24, 2019

Building on the recommendations from the 2019 Master Plan, Planning Board hosted a community meeting to discuss the possibility of a 40R district in town.