On March 4th, Support Our Town and the ZBA’s Decision on Shingle Place Hill


To the Editor, Beginning Monday, March 4th at 10 a.m., the Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) will conduct public hearings on Manchester’s Zoning Board of Appeals’ (ZBA) decision to deny a comprehensive permit to the proposed development on Shingle Place Hill.  The hearings will be held outside of the American Legion Hall in Manchester and we will gather there at 9:30 a.m.

It is imperative that we come together as a community in support of the ZBA’s decision, one they based on the serious environmental, health and safety threats presented by the proposal.

While our community has been working to expand affordable housing in Manchester, this project does not actually solve our affordable housing challenge, while it does jeopardize Manchester’s environment, drinking water, and wildlife habitats.

Here are just a few examples of the environmental and health risks presented to our community by this proposal:

The proposed site is surrounded by rivers and wetlands and would require blasting more than 40-feet of rock off the top of Shingle Place Hill -- removing much of the vegetation in the area and making storm water runoff a significant worry.  

One of the surrounding rivers is Sawmill Brook.  Storm water runoff entering Sawmill Brook potentially impacts the Lincoln Street well, which provides our town with about 50% of our drinking water.  Additionally, within 400 feet of the proposed site are two wells that Manchester views as an emergency public water supply.

Sawmill Brook is also one of only two state-recognized Coldwater Fisheries Resources (CFR) north of Boston, housing unique sea-run brook trout.  CFRs need cool water to survive; and pavement, cement blocks, retaining walls, and cutting trees would all threaten this fragile resource.

Beyond these examples are many more, ranging from sewage disposal to a single point of access to the site with steep grades, potentially endangering residents.

We need to highlight to the HAC that this proposal poses too many environmental, health and safety risks to move forward.  

Please show your support for the ZBA’s decision by coming out on March 4th and tuning into the hearings online.

Victoria Esser 

Board Member, Manchester Essex Conservation Trust