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Released First Draft




Zoning Ordinances from Other Municipalities Written by TPUDC, the City's Zoning Consultant


Zoning Frequently Asked Questions

What is Zoning?
  • Zoning is a group of laws adopted by a city or town that govern the use of land.  It is made up of two documents: a zoning ordinance and a zoning map.
  • A zoning ordinance is a written description of how land can be used, such as how tall buildings can be, whether a property can be used for residential or commercial purposes, and how closely buildings can be built to neighboring properties.  The ordinance describes different zoning districts and what is allowed in each district. 
  • A zoning map is a map of an entire city or town that shows where the zoning districts are located.  The districts cover the municipality, so that each parcel of land is in a district. 


Why Create a New Zoning Ordinance?
  • The 2021 Manchester Master Plan specifically calls for the updating of Manchester’s land use laws, including the drafting of a new zoning ordinance.  A master plan is meant to express the goals of the citizens of a town or city regarding the development of land and should be followed by the local government.  With clear direction from the citizens of Manchester to update the City’s regulations, now is the right time for a new zoning ordinance.    
  • The 2021 Manchester Master Plan not only says that regulations should be updated, but it says how: “The primary focus of future rezoning should be the form or character of each area of the City.  The zoning ordinance should be updated to reflect the vision in this Plan and serve as one of the primary mechanisms by which that vision is implemented.”  To focus on the form or character of different areas of Manchester, a new document is necessary.  The current zoning ordinance is not capable of such a focus. 
  • The current zoning ordinance and map require significant revision.  From split-zoned parcels to mathematical errors to noncompliance with recent Supreme Court decisions, the current zoning ordinance needs a thorough overhaul to address problems both large and small.
  • The Manchester Zoning Ordinance should be more accessible than it currently is.  Zoning affects every home and every business in Manchester.  It should be easily readable by the average person.  This has been a top priority for the City in drafting a new zoning ordinance, and it is reflected in the draft ordinance’s use of plain language and numerous diagrams, pictures, paintings, and architectural drawings. 


Is Zoning New for Manchester?
  • No, Manchester enacted its first zoning ordinance in 1927, only a year after the United States Supreme Court ruled zoning to be legal in the landmark case of Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Company.  Even before the City’s adoption of its first zoning ordinance, the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company laid out streets and individual lots in what is today’s downtown, and the City had regulations regarding building construction.  After 1927, the City adopted entirely new zoning ordinances in 1965 and 2001, while making discrete amendments to those ordinances frequently.