Monday, January 16, 2017

Part 3 - Residential VII processing during 2014

This is Part 3 of a series to collect the development of the Residential VII Zoning history in one place. The Residential VII zoning bylaw was discussed, written, and approved in 2013 and then applied to Cook's Farm in 2014. The Council meeting Wednesday is to decide if this zoning bylaw should be applied to the Summer St parcel. Additional items in this series will include information around the parties to the development, the timeline, and the written and recorded meetings.

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The Residential VII bylaw was passed in Nov 2013 by the Town Council and the developer began working through the process.

June 18, 2014 Town Council meeting

In this meeting, a coincidence of events created tense discussions:

  • A member of the Cook family spoke during Citizens Comments complaining about the length of time for the process.
  • The Planning Dept had a scheduled update on what they do. During the Q and A the tensions were raised.
  • The Citizens Committee also had a brief update and acknowledged (among other things) they were looking to change the name from the Citizens Committee

From the official meeting notes:
►Citizens’ Committee
Lawrence Benedetto, Will be back in front of Council in July. Committee has housekeeping to do. They would like 15 – 20 minutes. They would like to change the name of their committee. The current name implies that their mission involves all of the citizens of Franklin where their actual mission is narrower encompassing quality development, aesthetically pleasing projects, economically beneficial projects. They are frequently asked to get involved in things beyond their purview. They are thinking if they should remain a committee of the Council or be a stand alone committee. They would like to add Associate Members to compensate for traveling members.
The full set of meeting notes from the Town of Franklin archive

Video of the meeting can be viewed at

My notes from the meeting June 18, 2014

November 5, 2014 Town Council meeting

My notes summarizes the meeting as follows:
"The math is elementary. Take 3 from 8 and you are left with 5. And when you are the Town Council that needs 6 votes to ensure a 2/3 requirement, you are left with a real problem. 
Such was the situation that occurred at Wednesday's meeting for one key vote on the Cook's Farm project. 
The Council currently has only 8 members due to the resignation of Glenn Jones. The Special Election to vote in the new councilor occurs on Dec 16th. Three councilors recused themselves from the discussion and vote creating this situation. The councilors recused were Padula, Mercer and Bissanti. 
In the meantime, the Cook's Farm project is on hold waiting to get the final permits issued so they can begin work. After verification of the requirements for the Planning Board, Attorney Mark Cerel determined that the one vote the Council was able to make was sufficient to allow the Planning Board to issue their approval."
My notes

The official meeting notes

The meeting video replay


If the zoning change were accepted, the developer would still be required to come forward with the formal proposal for the land and homes to be built. The Planning Board would hold their public hearings before issuing the permits required. Other sections of the Town government (Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation Commission, etc.) would get involved depending upon the nature of the proposal. 

Based upon what happened with the Cook's Farm situation, once the Town Council approved the zoning change, they were no longer involved in the project. The Town Council is a legislative body, they enact the bylaws, the other boards, and commissions and town departments are responsible for ensuring the the process and regulations are adhered to. 

Part 1

Part 2

Cook's Farm being built as the first Residential VII development on RT 140

Franklin Town Offices closed for MLK Day

Town Offices will be closed Monday, January 16, 2017 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day
MLK image from Franklin webpage

This was shared from the Town of Franklin webpage

2013 Master Plan: Housing Section

I copied the Housing Section from the approved Master Plan to let you read and see how many of the 2013 Master Plan objectives are met by this zoning bylaw change. 

One of the arguments for the Residential VII zone in this area of Summer St is that it meets the goals of the Master Plan. 

You can find the full Master Plan document online here

You can find the full Housing section (PDF) here

Read and decide for yourself


Goals and Objectives 
Policy Statement: Support in-fill housing practices and provide for all affordability options, giving Franklin’s residents the opportunity to maintain a decent standard of living. 

Franklin recently created a Housing Plan which was adopted in 2008 by the Commonwealth. 

This plan helped the Housing and Circulation Sub-committee form the goals and objectives listed below. 

Goal 1: Provide the appropriate mix of housing alternatives that meet the needs of Franklin based employment.

Objective 1.1: Assess current and projected employment within the Town, and propose policy and zoning changes to assure adequate workforce housing is provided.

Objective 1:2: Encourage development of a mix of rental and owner-occupied housing units that are affordable to Franklin’s workforce.

Objective 1.3: Encourage development of workforce housing in areas of Town where property is underutilized or needs redevelopment, and where walking distance of Rail service is available.
Please refer to Goal 1 in the Land Use section of this document. 

Objective 1.4: Create zoning that would allow for workforce housing in appropriate areas of Town

Goal 2: Support development of affordable housing opportunities for low, moderate and middle-income households. (See Appendix H: 2011 Affordable Housing Strategy – Program Recommendations)

Objective 2.1: Seek adoption of Chapter 40R: Smart Growth Zoning Overlay District, in appropriate area of town. 

Goal 3: Assure residential developments requiring special permits are concentrated where adequate utilities are available and where proposed project impacts will not significantly impact roadway circulation level of service.

Objective 3.1: Evaluate housing development plans to assure proposed projects utilize existing infrastructure in the most cost effective manner, and where capacity can be sufficiently increased in the most cost effective manner, as well as encourage 10% affordable housing in any new residential development.

Goal 4: Encourage, rezone as required, and support housing appropriate for expected future demographics.

Objective 4.1: Support the development of housing opportunities for seniors and the elderly. 

Objective 4.2: Change zoning to allow for the expansion of “in law” apartments in the existing single family homes.

Objective 4.3: Encourage the development of smaller housing units to better meet the needs of a younger generation of households.

Goal 5: Encourage future housing developments to take advantage of public transportation resources, including the MBTA commuter rail, and GATRA bus service.

Objective 5.1: Promote mixed-use, Transit-Oriented Development in appropriate areas. 
Please refer to Goal 2 and related objectives in the Land Use section of this document.

Objective 5.2: Encourage development of housing near public transportation, including the MBTA stations in Downtown Franklin and the Forge Park Station.

Goal 6: Support sustainable development, renewable energy and recycling initiatives, low impact development, and other “Green” activities during all public and privately funded housing developments (Refer to Section 9 of the Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP), Objective 4.3 and subsequent actions.)

Objective 6.1: Seek adoption of Community Preservation Act (CPA) (Refer to Section 9 of the OSRP, Objective 4.2 and subsequent actions).
Please refer to Natural, Cultural & Historic Resources Objective 5.4. 

Town of Franklin Master Plan 2013 webpage
Town of Franklin Master Plan 2013 webpage

Registry of Deeds Consumer Program Reaches 500th Milestone

Norfolk County Registry of Deeds

Registry of Deeds Consumer Program Reaches 500th Milestone

Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell today announced the 500th sign-up of a free on-line Consumer Notification Service designed to protect Norfolk County property owners against fraud.

"We are delighted that in less than 2 years people continue to enroll in the program. Our goal is to get every property owner in the county to sign-up for it," noted O'Donnell.

The Register has cited recent F.B.I. statistics that property and mortgage fraud is one of the fastest growing white collar crimes in the United States. "Multiple jurisdictions across the country have reported individuals recording fraudulent documents and making it appear like they own another person's home or property. While we have been fortunate that this problem has not revealed itself here in Norfolk County, I want to make sure my office is proactively and vigorously protecting consumers," noted Register O'Donnell.

Any owner of real property in the twenty-eight communities comprising Norfolk County can sign-up for the Consumer Notification Service free of charge by doing the following simple steps: Go to the Registry's website,, and click on the Consumer Notification Service Get Consumer Alerts button to complete the initial registration. From there, follow the remaining sign-up instructions, it only takes a minute or two to complete.

Once you have signed up for the service, each subscriber will be able to input two names, individual or business, as well as the corresponding city or town in Norfolk County for monitoring. They can check their property for such activities as changes in deeds, mortgages, non-mortgage liens, Homesteads or other land document transactions that might be recorded against their name.

If a document is recorded against one of the names inputted for monitoring, the subscriber will be alerted via email, usually within 24 hours. The person can also check the Registry's on-line land research records at as an option. If a subscriber believes a fraudulent land record has been recorded against their property, they should immediately contact the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center at (781) 461-6101. The subscriber will also be given a list of public safety referrals by the Registry.

Register O'Donnell concluded, "As your Norfolk County Register of Deeds, I take very seriously the Registry's responsibility to provide secure, accurate and accessible land records for all Norfolk County communities. I also want to be proactive in ensuring that there is no fraudulent activity related to land document recordings. By offering the Consumer Notification Service, the Registry is able to provide a level of protection to the program's subscribers against unscrupulous individuals who would attempt to commit real estate fraud. I urge people to sign-up for the free program."

To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, like us at or follow us on twitter and Instagram @norfolkdeeds.

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, located at 649 High Street, Dedham, is the principal office for real property in Norfolk County. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center at (781) 461-6101, or on the web at

Register William P. O'Donnell
Norfolk County Registry of Deeds

phone: 781-234-3336
Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, 649 High Street, Dedham,, MA 02026-1831

Sent by in collaboration with
Constant Contact

Norfolk Deeds - Consumer Alert Service
Norfolk Deeds - Consumer Alert Service

"the Cultural District Steering Committee - has been very active"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"A Thursday meeting will gather feedback on seeking a "cultural district" designation for downtown, and consider the implications should that designation be granted. 
Town Planner Bryan Taberner said the meeting - set to run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Franklin Municipal Building - will consider the structural issues around such a label, which would make the area eligible for assistance with cultural events. 
"For the past couple of years, a group of people have been working at creating a state-designated cultural district in the downtown," he said. "What we plan to do at the meeting is to get everybody on the same page about the plans."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

More about the Cultural District planning meeting was posted here previously

Arts Happen Here in Franklin, MA!
"the Cultural District Steering Committee - has been very active"

Note: I am volunteering my time and effort as part of the Cultural District Steering Committee to make this happen for Franklin.

To find out more about the Cultural District visit the webpage

"if America is to be a great nation (Yes), this must become true" (video)

Take a few minutes to listen to, or read, the "I have a dream" speech given by Martin Luther King in August of 1963.

"Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. (My Lord, No, no, no, no) [applause] We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline."

The full text of the speech can be found here:

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Franklin, MA: Town Council - Agenda - Jan 18, 2017

Note the left column with the agenda item heading (E. Appointments for example) are hot links to the supporting individual documents


Swearing in of Fire Fighters
Citizens are welcome to express their views for up to five minutes on a matter that is not on the Agenda. The Council will not engage in a dialogue or comment on a matter raised during Citizen Comments. The Town Council will give remarks appropriate consideration and may ask the Town Administrator to review the matter.
Finance Committee - David Wiech
F. HEARINGS(no scheduled for this agenda)
99 Restaurant Change of Manager Transition - 7:10 PM
Communications and Civic Engagement
I. SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS(provided during meeting)
1. Resolution 17-01: Acceptance of Gift to the Library (majority)
2. Resolution 17-02: Acceptance of Gift to the Council on Aging (majority)
3. Resolution 17-02: Appropriation, Administration: GASB 4575 Actuary Study (majority)
4. Zoning Bylaw Amendment 16-775: Zoning Map Changes fro Rural Residential I to Residential VII an Area on Summer Street - 2nd Reading (2/3 majority Roll Call Vote)
K. TOWN ADMINISTRATOR'S REPORT(provided during meeting)
L. FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS(provided during meeting)
M. COUNCIL COMMENTS(provided during meeting)

The full 92 page PDF with the agenda and supporting documents is also found on the Town of Franklin webpage

sunrise at DelCarte
sunrise at DelCarte