Limited Commercial District Smart Growth Study

May 2021 LCD Overlay District Study Update

As the Town considers it future, it does so in an environment that is anything but static. Changes, proposed changes, and new opportunities require that the Town regularly assess its actions in light of existing, expected and desired future conditions.

Given that the recent proposal for a large 40B housing development in the Limited Commercial District has created resident concern about unintended community impacts and following the recommendation of the Planning Board, the Town and MAPC have agreed to change the scope of the LCD Smart Growth Overlay District Feasibility Study.

The study will shift from consideration of a 40R Overlay District that would allow a prescribed housing density by right, to an Overlay District that could allow a mix of uses either by right or special permit.  The study will now identify, illustrate, and evaluate several development options and create regulations and design standards for a Mixed Use Overlay District that follows the principles of smart growth. To that end, MAPC will work with the Town to:

  • provide research data on market feasibility for a variety of desired uses included office, research and development, assisted living facilities, hotel and rental housing.
  • create perspective sketch/modeling of three development scenarios that illustrate density of use and potential site layout including access ways, development areas and areas of preserved vegetation.
  • develop a matrix to show comparison of development impacts including revenue, parking spaces, housing, water use, employees, % preserved space, % impervious surface
  • draft zoning language and design guidelines for a mixed use overlay district

 Thank you for your interest and engagement in this planning study.

For more information contact Sue Brown, Town Planner at

Recent Deliverables

February 22, 2021 Public Forum

Around 70 residents attended the February 22 Public Forum to discuss the LCD Study that is assessing the feasibility of a Smart Growth Overlay District in a defined area of the Limited Commercial District.  The forum included an overview of the study and process as well as landowner ideas on potential future development.



Landowner Presentation 2.22.21

LCD Public Forum Presentation 2.22.21

January 12, 2021 Public Forum:



LCD Public Forum Presentation 

The purpose of this public forum was to present and discuss the findings and preliminary recommendations of the 40R Smart Growth Feasibility Study. This study is looking at an option for developing a new mixed-use neighborhood that would be controlled by new zoning regulations and design standards.  

September 24, 2020 Public Forum

Recording: 9/24/20 Recording

About the Limited Commercial District and 40R

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.

40R Study Links

40R/LCD Study: LCD Study Website