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

Mar 05

BOS Weekly Updates - March 5, 2021

Posted to Board of Selectmen Weekly Update by Tiffany Marletta

BOS Updates – March 5, 2021.

Vaccine Clinic for Second Dose:  On Saturday, March 6, Manchester will host the follow-up clinic to administer second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for the 300 residents who already received the first dose at Sacred Heart Parish Hall.  A reminder email has been sent to all eligible residents. Board of Health

School Budget Summit: Manchester and Essex will come together in a joint meeting to discuss the FY2022 school budget on Thursday, March 11 at 7 PM. Please see the Town website for meeting details.

Annual Town Meeting: Due to the pandemic, the Annual Town Meeting has been postponed until Monday, June 21 at 6:30 PM on the Manchester Essex Regional High School Athletic Field.

Excise Tax:  Excise tax bills have been mailed and are due on Monday, March 15.  Please contact the Tax Collectors Office at 978-526-2030 with any questions.

Nomination Papers:  Nomination papers are available to be mailed to those interested in running for local office on Tuesday, May 18.  Please contact the Town Clerks office at 978-526-2040 or townclerk@manchester.ma.us. to make a request.  Papers are due April 1. Election Information

Dog Licenses:  Dog license renewals are due by March 31. More information can be found by visiting the Town Clerk page on the Town website.  Payment can be made online or through the mail.

2021 Beach Stickers:  2021 Beach Stickers are now on sale online or via mail.  Please see the Parking Clerk page on the Town website for complete details and instructions.  2021 Stickers must be placed on the front windshield in the upper left corner. Parking Clerk

Town Hall is Closed to the Public Until Further Notice:  Appointments can be made with individual departments during normal business hours.

Town Hall Payment Drop Box:  Installed at the rear of Town Hall by the Police Station Blue Door and monitored by a security camera.  Please use this convenient box to drop payments off for any Town Bills.  Please No Cash.

Trash, recycling, and compost collection:  Regular schedule.  

Follow Us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @townofmbts and visit the Town website www.Manchester.ma.us to stay informed.




Mar 05

From the Town Administrator's Desk - March 5, 2021

Posted to From the Town Administrator's Desk by Tiffany Marletta

Choices, Easy and Hard, Abound
By Gregory T. Federspiel

Choices – we make them daily in our personal lives, at work and in the running of our communities.  Some choices are easy – I’ll always opt for a sail if I have the opportunity.  Others, of course, are much harder, especially when there are competing needs, as so often the case in our community-wide decisions. 

We are facing a large number of decisions as a community right now.  Some are being imposed on us (how do we best continue to respond to the pandemic, what is the best way to respond to the proposed 40B development) while others are the result of community decisions (Master Plan implementation efforts like looking into changes to the Limited Commercial District.)  Still others are part of our annual budgeting process (should we switch over to the regional dispatch service.)

The 40B project proposal has generated a lot of new interest in our housing and how best to diversify it.  Since its inception by a vote of the Town, the Affordable Housing Trust has tried to create new housing options.  While many leads up to now have not materialized, current work with the Manchester Housing Authority is looking promising as a way to expand the amount of affordable housing in town. Our Housing Production Plan, first crafted over 5 years ago, calls for the creation of a dozen or so new affordable housing units a year as a way to get to the state’s requirement for 10% of a community’s housing stock being officially designated as affordable.  The new energy and resources of the Citizen’s Initiative for Affordable Housing is a welcomed addition to the efforts.  The ultimate outcome of the proposed Shingle Hill 40B project likely will not be know for quite some time as we are still in the preliminary stages of the project.

Choices for how to manage growth in the Limited Commercial District are another point of considerable debate.  Through the Master Planning process, high interest was expressed for the consideration of changes that could add greater flexibility for what can be built in this area of town, north of Route 128. The Planning Board continues to work on various options.  Any new development must meet high standards especially relative to environmental protections.  This is not a call for unbridled growth.  Finding the right choices that allow for new uses that grow the commercial tax base of the Town while providing for new amenities is the challenge here. Voters will need to make the final decision once proposals are brought forth to a town meeting (now slated for a special meeting in the fall.)

Voters approved funding to recodify our zoning regulations.  The process has uncovered many sections that are either inconsistent with recent laws/court cases or are no longer serving our needs well.  How best to update the zoning regulations is another area generating debate.  Again, once proposals are finalized by the Planning Board, they will be brought forward to the voters at a town meeting.     

Budgetary choices come before voters every year.  And choices made in the past typically carry forward.  Bonds approved for the two schools resulted in annual bond payments for 30 years each that voters have chosen to place outside the limits of Proposition 2 ½.  Recently, voters have approved annual capital exclusion votes, again outside the limits of Proposition 2 ½, that replace the drop in annual town debt payments with a like amount of cash for infrastructure improvements.  This approach means total tax dollars do not decrease with lower debt payments nor do taxes increase to pay for the upgrades to our infrastructure. 

The services residents choose for the town to provide impact our expenses.  Very few towns of our size provide for Advance Live Support Ambulance service by town personnel.  We have been doing so for quite awhile and have two ambulances at the ready for emergency medical calls.  Many comparable towns rely mostly on a volunteer corps of firefighters.  We have chosen to have a combination department with career firefighters and volunteers.  Our volunteer numbers have dramatically fallen off.  Unless we can re-establish a group of call firefighters, we may have to expand the number of career firefighters or rethink how our Fire Department operates.

Having an in-house dispatching operation is another service and cost that a town of our size often does not have.  The decision to have an in-house dispatch operation was made decades ago.  The question of moving toward to a regional service has been debated off and on for the past 8 years and is getting another look as part of this year’s budget development process.  The current system has plenty of advocates thus making a switch is not an easy decision.

Every community faces an array of choices.  As a town that operates under the open town meeting form of governance, the choices that Manchester makes are determined by the voters.  Staff working with our volunteer committees will continue to work on various options for presentation to voters at our upcoming town meetings.         





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.