Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Master Plan: Zoning

The draft Master Plan 2013 for Franklin is chock full of great information. Zoning plans an important role in how Franklin operates and grows. Look around town, there are commercial zones and residential areas. These are all by design. The design can be changed via the zoning process and the overall guidelines to the design come from the Master Plan. The full plan document runs over 90 pages but should be required summer reading for each Franklin resident and voter.

You can participate in the Public Hearing on this draft on Saturday at the Library at 10:00 AM

The overview section on zoning is shared here:

Zoning

A municipality’s authority to create zoning laws comes from Chapter 40A of the Massachusetts General Laws and Article 89 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution. Zoning plays an important role in the character of the town and the spatial distribution of land uses. This distribution of land uses has social, environmental, and economic consequences on the Town. These consequences can have positive and negative impacts. For example, increased economic development can help support the Town’s tax base and provide local jobs, but it can also lead to increased traffic congestion. Also, the ways in which development occurs impacts how stormwater is managed, and therefore affects the quality and supply of the Town’s water. Since zoning regulations affect where specific types of development are allowed, it plays a crucial role in the livability of the Town.

In the past sixty years land use theory on zoning has changed considerably. During the mid-20th century single-use zoning became the norm. The developed areas of most communities increased substantially and spread out as residential, commercial, and industrial areas were built far apart from each other. Franklin experienced this pattern of development, commonly known as sprawl, to some extent in the mid twentieth century, but by the 1980s and 1990s residential sprawl had occurred throughout Town, substantial industrial development was occurring on industrially zoned lands west of I-495, and commercial development was
increasing along Route 140.

There are both benefits and advantages, and costs and disadvantages, to this type of development. Some of the benefits and advantages include: ease of permitting; segregated residential areas are thought of as safe; and homes segregated away from commercial and industrial uses often have higher values. Some of the disadvantages and negative consequences of sprawl include increased traffic congestion and time commuting, loss of open spaces, damaged natural resources and wildlife habitat, and loss of a rural New England character. Furthermore, low-density, sprawling development tends not to pay for itself due to the higher infrastructure costs. The Town has recognized the advantages and disadvantages of single-use development and has worked to minimize these issues by amending the Town’s Zoning Bylaws.

Description of Zones

Franklin’s zoning code is documented in Chapter 185 of the Town Code for the purpose of promoting the:
“health, safety, convenience, morals and welfare of the inhabitants of the Town of Franklin, to lessen the danger from fire and congestion, to encourage the most appropriate use of land and to improve the Town under the provisions of Chapter 40A of the General Laws, and of Article 89 of the Amendments to the Constitution. For this purpose, the use, construction, repair, alteration, height, area and the location of buildings and structures and the use of premises in the Town of Franklin are regulated as hereinafter provided.”
The zoning code is regularly modified to reflect the current needs of the Town. At present, the Town Code divides Franklin into 14 Zoning Districts. It should be noted however, that while Zoning Districts have been established within Chapter 185 Section 4 for Limited Industrial and Neighborhood Commercial, no parcels have formally been designated to those zoning districts, and thus are not shown on the Town’s Zoning Map (see Map LU-1: Zoning Map).


You can view the full document online on the Franklin webpage
http://franklinma.virtualtownhall.net/pages/FranklinMA_Planning/masterplandoc/doc