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This page catalogs the basic provisions of Ipswich zoning and a few other relevant bylaws and materials. The aim is to provide a basis for comparison with the new requirements, which will highlight areas for further thought.



Link to Ipswich Zoning

The Ipswich Water Department posts much information, including information about its projects to update the water system, and the Water Use Mitigation Program (WUMP).

Link to Ipswich Water Department

The interactive mapping and GIS (Geographic Information System) provides great detail. There are various options for layers, including zoning districts, lot lines and structures, and wetland maps.

Link to GIS & and mapping

Relevant materials posted by the Planning Division, including Section 3A Information.

Link to web page


There are various measures of building density. For multifamily housing, the most immediately applicable may be minimum lot area per dwelling unit. This varies in different zoning districts. The Planning Board may allow greater density by Special Permit in some cases.

The figures below show the number of units that this measure allows on a one-acre lot. These limits are rather theoretical, however, since there are many other regulatory and practical constraints on what can be built.

The Central Business (CB) district is the core downtown area, around Market, Central and Hammatt streets. It is designed to be a focal, high density area. Zoning makes special provision for mixed commercial and residential uses.

The Central Business district contains some 28 acres. Something like one third of this is wetland and street area, so not suitable for building.

The Gemeral Business (GB) district is an extension from the core Central Business district outward, running up to Lord's Square and alomg Depot Square. It is generally transitional in character, from the commerical downtown area to the established Intown Residential (IR) district.

Like the Central Business District, it allows for multifamily dwellings and mixed residential/commercial development.

The General Business district contains aboout 17 acres. About a third of this is wetland and street area, not available for building.

The Intown Residential (IR) district includes much of the established central area of town, most of it single- or two-family dwellings. Some multifamily building is permitted, though at a smaller level than downtown.

The Highway Business (HB) Zone includes two areas, one northwest of downtown along High Street, and another aroudn the interesection of Essex and County Roads. It allows some level of multifamily development and has been the site of a number of new projects in recent years, since there is some undeveloped or underdeveloped land available. The area along High Street has a lot of wetland around it, which complicates planning significantly.

Current Industrial (I) zoning does not permit residential use.

There are two Industrial sectors. One is north, along Mitchell Road. The other is south of downtown, between the railroad tracks and Topsfield Road. The latter is of potential interest for this purpose, because it is close to downtown, has a lot of undeveloped or underdeveloped land, and is adjacent to densely built residential neighborhoods.

Neighborhood protection

Current zoning regulations restrict height and lot area coverage of buildings, and require certain setbacks from lot lines. These vary by zoning district.


Ipswich currently requires that multifamily development include 15% affordable units – or that the developer make a payment in lieu to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Ipswich gained, on an interim basis, "Safe Harbor" status from 40B requirements, so that the Town could reject any further 40B applications. However, this designation was based on the premise that the proposed Essex Pastures development would be proceeding. Since that has become delayed, it appears reasonable to imagine that the Safe Harbor protection could lapse at the next review.


Dow Brook

Ipswich is embarked on a large scale plan to update and upgrade its water supply system.

New developments are handled on a case by case basis. For all of them, there is a Water Use Mitigation Program (WUMP) payment required. The WUMP payment provides funds for repair and replacement of leaking pipes, for instance. It is calibrated so that the water savings it enables are equal to the amount of new water use. The Department also sometimes negotiates infrastructure upgrades with individual developers.

Water supply capacity is an active ongoing effort.


Ipswich has set energy efficiency standards beyond the required ones, including adopting the Massachusetts "Stretch Code." The Stretch Code, which emphasizes energy performance, as opposed to prescriptive requirements, is designed to result in cost-effective construction that is more energy efficient than that built to the "base" energy code.

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