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Find out what's happening in the blog. Below is a list of blog items.

Aug 22

BOS Weekly Update - August 22, 2019

Posted to Board of Selectmen Weekly Update by Elizabeth Dukes

Please read for updates on Listening Sessions, Award Winning Audit Report, and Upcoming Selectmen Meetings

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Aug 22

From the Town Administrator's Desk - August 15, 2019

Posted to From the Town Administrator's Desk by Elizabeth Dukes











































Without these two local option laws, towns are required to use the statutory speed limits established by state law (20 mph school zones; 30 mph for thickly settled areas; 45 mph for rural roads) or, after completing an engineering study that identifies the 85th percentile speed, petition the state for a special speed regulation that differs from the statutory speeds.  Recently the state has clarified how these existing laws interface with the new local option laws.

The Town has undertaken engineering studies on a handful of roads over the past few decades and has some regulatory speed limits on the books.  Where these are higher than the across the board 25 mph designation, a request to rescind the special regulation must be made to the state.   

After Town Meeting approval of the two local option speed limit laws, the Selectmen moved forward with establishing the lower speed limits.  The recommendations from the Bike and Pedestrian Committee and the Downtown Improvement Committee were followed, creating a town-wide speed limit of 25 mph for all roads unless otherwise posted and creating a safety zone that extends out from the train station in a one mile radius. 

In light of clarification from the state and from driver feedback, it has become evident that additional fine-tuning of these new speed limits is needed.  For example, the outer ends of School Street and Pine Street do not qualify as “thickly settled” (defined by the statutes as a house every 200 feet). 25 mph is likely too low of a speed for these sections of roadway.   And speed zones are designed for certain adjacent land uses. Specifically, the state guidelines note  that safety zones are “intended to be used in areas where vulnerable road users are likely to be present, such as parks and playgrounds, senior citizen housing and centers, hospitals or other medical facilities, high schools and higher education centers, and daycare facilities.”  20 mph school zones should be used around elementary schools.

Thus, the Board of Selectmen are asking that the two committees, police and fire personnel, staff from the Department of Public Works and interested citizens convene in a public working session to review our current speed postings in light of these additional details and present a new set of recommendations to the Selectmen.  The Board will hold a public hearing to receive the recommendations, take public comment, and make final decisions on refining the posting of speed limits in town. These efforts will be undertaken over the next couple of months.  



Without these two local option laws, towns are required to use the statutory speed limits established by state law (20 mph school zones; 30 mph for thickly settled areas; 45 mph for rural roads) or, after completing an engineering study that identifies the 85th percentile speed, petition the state for a special speed regulation that differs from the statutory speeds.  Recently the state has clarified how these existing laws interface with the new local option laws.

The Town has undertaken engineering studies on a handful of roads over the past few decades and has some regulatory speed limits on the books.  Where these are higher than the across the board 25 mph designation, a request to rescind the special regulation must be made to the state.   

After Town Meeting approval of the two local option speed limit laws, the Selectmen moved forward with establishing the lower speed limits.  The recommendations from the Bike and Pedestrian Committee and the Downtown Improvement Committee were followed, creating a town-wide speed limit of 25 mph for all roads unless otherwise posted and creating a safety zone that extends out from the train station in a one mile radius. 

In light of clarification from the state and from driver feedback, it has become evident that additional fine-tuning of these new speed limits is needed.  For example, the outer ends of School Street and Pine Street do not qualify as “thickly settled” (defined by the statutes as a house every 200 feet). 25 mph is likely too low of a speed for these sections of roadway.   And speed zones are designed for certain adjacent land uses. Specifically, the state guidelines note  that safety zones are “intended to be used in areas where vulnerable road users are likely to be present, such as parks and playgrounds, senior citizen housing and centers, hospitals or other medical facilities, high schools and higher education centers, and daycare facilities.”  20 mph school zones should be used around elementary schools.

Thus, the Board of Selectmen are asking that the two committees, police and fire personnel, staff from the Department of Public Works and interested citizens convene in a public working session to review our current speed postings in light of these additional details and present a new set of recommendations to the Selectmen.  The Board will hold a public hearing to receive the recommendations, take public comment, and make final decisions on refining the posting of speed limits in town. These efforts will be undertaken over the next couple of months.  



Without these two local option laws, towns are required to use the statutory speed limits established by state law (20 mph school zones; 30 mph for thickly settled areas; 45 mph for rural roads) or, after completing an engineering study that identifies the 85th percentile speed, petition the state for a special speed regulation that differs from the statutory speeds.  Recently the state has clarified how these existing laws interface with the new local option laws.

The Town has undertaken engineering studies on a handful of roads over the past few decades and has some regulatory speed limits on the books.  Where these are higher than the across the board 25 mph designation, a request to rescind the special regulation must be made to the state.   

After Town Meeting approval of the two local option speed limit laws, the Selectmen moved forward with establishing the lower speed limits.  The recommendations from the Bike and Pedestrian Committee and the Downtown Improvement Committee were followed, creating a town-wide speed limit of 25 mph for all roads unless otherwise posted and creating a safety zone that extends out from the train station in a one mile radius. 

In light of clarification from the state and from driver feedback, it has become evident that additional fine-tuning of these new speed limits is needed.  For example, the outer ends of School Street and Pine Street do not qualify as “thickly settled” (defined by the statutes as a house every 200 feet). 25 mph is likely too low of a speed for these sections of roadway.   And speed zones are designed for certain adjacent land uses. Specifically, the state guidelines note  that safety zones are “intended to be used in areas where vulnerable road users are likely to be present, such as parks and playgrounds, senior citizen housing and centers, hospitals or other medical facilities, high schools and higher education centers, and daycare facilities.”  20 mph school zones should be used around elementary schools.

Thus, the Board of Selectmen are asking that the two committees, police and fire personnel, staff from the Department of Public Works and interested citizens convene in a public working session to review our current speed postings in light of these additional details and present a new set of recommendations to the Selectmen.  The Board will hold a public hearing to receive the recommendations, take public comment, and make final decisions on refining the posting of speed limits in town. These efforts will be undertaken over the next couple of months.  



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Jun 17

MPC Update - June 2019

Posted to Manchester Master Plan News by Christina St. Pierre

Master Plan Update , June 2019

Manchester’s master planning efforts have spanned four years culminating in Planning Board approval of the Plan as submitted by the Master Plan Committee with minor text and organizational edits.  Since that approval in February, a Planning Board Subcommittee has been working with the Town Planner to finalize the Plan’s text and will next work on formatting the Plan for publication and developing a Master Plan Summary to be widely distributed. 

As the Plan is being finalized, implementation of the Plan’s recommendations have begun with several important initiatives.

  • The Planning Board has secured the services of land use attorney Mark Bobrowski to work with the Planning and Zoning Boards, the Zoning Enforcement Officer and others to re-codify and update the Town’s Zoning Bylaw to guide change in line with the Town’s Vision. For more information see (http://manchester.ma.us/703/Zoning-Recodification)
  • Representatives of various municipal boards and committees are meeting to discuss the potential for Smart Growth Overlay Districts in town as a tool to support a greater diversity of housing options.
  • The Town has applied for technical assistance and/or funding for a Parking Study, a Limited Commercial Strategic Plan and a Downtown Strategic Plan which can be accessed on the Town’s Website: https://www.manchester.ma.us/702/Grant-Applications-Awards
  • The Town is working with a consultant to study and identify opportunities for shared services with the Town of Essex.  The report is expected to be finalized by July.
  • The Town is working with MassHousing Partnership to assess the feasibility of a mix of market rate and affordable housing on the current DPW site. 
  • The Town is evaluating opportunities for a Harbor Master’s Office and Public Restrooms at Reed Park and Masconomo Park.


As part of the implementation process, the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board will be developing a communications strategy for updating residents on initiatives on a regular basis.  The goal is to provide a comprehensive list of the Plan’s Recommendations with a continually updated status.