Thursday, June 19, 2014

Electric Youth hit a high note before Council gets into the dirt

Do you recall this?

WHEREAS, the Town Council continues to explore ways of making improvements to our community; and 
WHEREAS, the Town Council would like participation by the citizens to provide valuable input. 
Now therefore, be it resolved by the Franklin Town Council that a Citizen Committee is established. Said committee shall consist of 5 to 9 members to be appointed by the Town Council. Said committee shall make recommendations to the Town council on how to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Franklin in areas including but not limited to enhancing citizen participation, aesthetics of the community, and business development, and other recommendations that the Council deems appropriate. Said committee shall make its recommendations by December, 2012. This Resolution shall become effective according to the rules and regulations of the Town of Franklin Home Rule Charter.

This was the resolution to form the creation of the Citizens Committee on the agenda for the Town Council in January 18, 2012.

Now the current Town Council is slightly different from the one in Jan 2012 but 6 of the 9 should remember this.

I was attracted by this because of the first objective: "enhancing citizen participation"

I applied, was appointed, was sworn in and then didn't attend a meeting as the Chair clearly indicated that the work would focus on the other objectives ("aesthetics of the community, and business development").

I find it interesting that had the committee focused on their original objective the whole town of Franklin might actually be in a better position.

Instead we continue to find Town Council meetings where everyone has only part of the information yet feels compelled to 'right the situation'.

Indeed, Wednesday night one of the projects that the Citizens Committee got involved in was raised for discussion during the presentation by the Panning and Committee Development Dept.

  • A family is looking to sell their property
  • The development proposed requires a new zoning bylaw
  • The development requires a special permit from the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Conservation Commission
  • All the hearings are currently underway
  • Advice to the Planning Board by the Town Attorney was taken out of context
  • Should this matter be discussed as it is (was last night) with the hearings underway?
  • Should members of the Council who recused themselves from the zoning discussion still be making comments on the matter?
  • Apparently the developer is unaware of some critical procedural matters applicable to all of MA and not just Franklin (demolition of a structure categorized as 'historic')
  • Apparently, the Council forgets from time to time that it is a governing body and should not be running the day to day operations of the Town

If the Citizens Committee had focused on "enhancing citizen participation," folks would be more informed on process and procedures. The level of communication and information sharing would be improved. Decisions and discussion would be based upon all the facts and not just part of the story or biased viewpoints.

We'll see... there is always hope... We need to stay out of the mud piles. No one ends up with a clean shirt after playing in the mud!

So the Electric Youth performance to open the meeting Wednesday evening was the high note. It all went downhill after that.

Electric Youth performing for Town Council
Electric Youth performing for Town Council

The full set of my notes reported live during the Wednesday meeting can be found here

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