Manchester comprehensive plan focuses on staying small

The Manchester Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a 2018 comprehensive plan, which will help navigate the town’s course for the next 10 years.

Town planning consultant Jim Shumacher presented an overview at the Aug. 14 meeting of the mayor and Town Council prior to a public hearing.


“This really serves as a road map,” Mayor Ryan Warner said. “Because something exists in the comprehensive plan doesn’t mean it has to come to fruition. Vice versa, there are some ways to do things [not in the plan].”

“Simply stated, this plan’s central vision is a strong desire to maintain Manchester’s small town character and appeal,” the plan states in its introduction.

A goal of the comprehensive plan’s revisions was to make it more viable so it wouldn’t sit on a shelf, Shumacher said.

Those drafting decided that “there would be some goals and objectives that would be very down to earth and specific that would benefit the town.”

The document outlines 36 goals and 66 objectives dealing with issues including annexation, preservation, natural resources, water and sewer, roads, and open spaces.

Four main visions for the town were identified, Shumacher said: keeping the small town small, identifying “planning nodes,” protecting natural resources and giving attention to public facilities.

Manchester grew by about 44 percent in 12 years, compared to about 11 percent in the county and 9 percent in the state, Shumacher said.

One goal is to set a reasonable population threshold that takes into account the town’s ability to provide public services.

Making recommendations for how the mayor and council should consider annexations in the future was “perhaps the most important” issue when it came to town growth.

One major difference between this plan and the last is a recommendation that the town annex all “enclaves” that are surrounded by the existing municipal limits in the future.

“Eventually there’s going to be problems with that as the septic tanks fail and the town’s going to end up needing to service their areas anyway with both water and sewer,” he said.

Council member and ex-officio member of the Planning & Zoning Commission Dale Wilder said he had encountered questions about the “municipal growth area,” marked out as 382 acres in the plan.

“These areas [were] identified for potential future growth,” he said. “It doesn’t automatically mean we’re annexing all those areas.”

Planning nodes are defined as small geographical areas in town that “require a unique planning strategy and focus.”


Keeping and even increasing open spaces and parks is a priority. Manchester boasts the largest number of any municipality in the county.

Under public facilities, the town hopes to avoid expanding the wastewater treatment plant, which has a 500,000 gallon per day cap.

“That is a size that cannot easily be changed or increased,” Shumacher said. “So the commission decided that we were going to do our best to plan the town as well as the proposed road area to see if we could stay underneath the limit.”

In addition to the four visions, a plan to grow commercial activity on the town’s historic Main Street was touched on. Areas that are already zoned for business are not being used.

Transportation and roads saw a number of recommendations.

The final chapter makes recommendations for implementation.

The town’s planning commission reviewed the plan and recommended approval prior to the hearing. A new comprehensive plan is required at least every 10 years for each municipality in the state. The last Manchester plan was approved in 2009.

Warner thanked the staff who have put in so much time to complete the project.

“It really was thousands of hours,” he said.

The next mayor and Town Council meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 11.

A copy of the complete plan is available on the town website.