In October of 2020, the town of Manchester faced a stark choice:
Either accept a proposal to develop 28 acres of forest and marsh on School Street that would threaten our sacred wilderness areas, tax our fragile resources and exploit a loophole to superficially "solve" Manchester's real needs for affordable housing...
Or We Could:
Come together to support a superior plan that would meet the critical demand for affordable housing in our community and preserve an environmentally-sensitive area.
The Citizens Initiative for Manchester Affordable Housing (CIMAH) believed that there was a better way to meet this community's needs. That belief continues to guide our group today.
On April 6th, 2021 Strategic Land Ventures (“SLV”) decided to end its negotiations with the Board of Selectmen (“Board”) on its proposed multifamily project on Shingle Hill, submitted under the State’s Chapter 40B law. We are grateful for the Board’s thorough assessment of the project, and its determination to seek the best outcome for the town. We are also grateful that SLV’s proposal has galvanized such support for well-located housing that addresses well the needs of low- and moderate-income residents. North Shore CDC’s intended acquisition of Powder House Lane is one such example.
On April 19 SLV filed with MassHousing for a Project Eligibility Letter for a 136-unit development at Shingle Place Hill. A Project Eligibility Letter (“PEL”) from Mass Housing would enable it to continue on the 40B process later this year or in 2022. The application and the developer's plans are posted on the Town's website. Towns generally receive thirty days to respond to MassHousing applications. In this case Manchester officials requested and received an additional thirty days to provide comments and feedback to MassHousing. On June 23rd, The Board of Selectmen finalized its letter to MassHousing.
On September 16th, SLV received a Project Eligibility Letter (PEL) from MassHousing. This means that Manchester’s Zoning Board of Appeals will soon need to open a hearing on the project SLV has proposed for Shingle Hill and determine whether to grant a Comprehensive Permit for that project. The hearing will likely start in October and extend over many months and include ample opportunity for public input. CIMAH will be an active participant and will advocate for the health, safety and environmental interests of the town and all its citizens, including those who might reside in SLV’s ill-designed project. We would expect any such process and potential appeals to take many months and likely years, especially given the very significant health and safety issues that have been raised regarding the proposed Shingle Hill development. We will let you know as soon as we have more information on the ZBA process.
We believe that ultimately, common sense and town-wide teamwork will defeat this ill-conceived project -- no matter how long that takes.