Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Economic Development Committee - Dec 17, 2014

Economic Development Committee: Andy Bissanti (Chair), Bob Vallee, Matt Kelly, Peter Padula. 

Meeting location was changed to be held in the 3rd floor training room to accommodate the larger group present. Approx 24 folks in room. I was late to the room and if there was a formal acknowledgement of the committee at the meeting opening I missed it.

Open statement by Jeff Nutting providing an overview of the status of the RFP and the one response, not legal as it came in after time and added items not part of the original request.

Discussion effectively around should the RFP be re-issued? and if re-issued should it be re-issued as is, or modified. Modified to include a re-zoning of the property to include residential in a multi-use proposal.

There would be public hearings as part of the process for the zoning change. First before the Town Council as the bylaw change would be recommended to the Planning Board. There would be the Planning Board public hearing and due process. Ultimately assuming referred back to the Town Council, there are two additional readings (and hearings) for public input before final vote.

Discussion around the benefit of the apartments vs. condominiums (from a tax base perspective).
Traffic studies would be part of the approval process of what ever proposal is brought forward by a developer.

The larger concern is revenue for Franklin. How much revenue can the property bring to the community?

Planning Board Chair, Tony Padula said that the developer for the Starbucks hired an independent traffic consultant for a study. The Town also did their own study of traffic input. Both studies agreed the traffic should not be an issue for the area.

The real issue with the site is that the location and land is really located on water and next to the Charles River. That will limit what can be done on the land.

Andy Bissanti - The land is a beautiful piece of land, it is right near i495. It is underutilized. Putting it back out is the best thing to do. The residential component should be able to help 'sell' the property.

Discussion on including or not the residential component. Suggestion on putting it out without restrictions and see what someone may propose, maybe a use we have not considered.

Sandy Verhagen - What is the rush? If the land has been unused for 30+ years, what is wrong with waiting a little longer to get input from the community and do it right.

Joe Halligan - You can't say it is not going to be built, it can be built with mitigation (wider lanes, turn signals, etc.)

Peter Padula - All the hard questions need to asked here so we can do what is in the best interests of Franklin. What will come of it? I don't know but let's get it started.

Nutting - provides an overview of the next steps in the process (as summarized above)
In addition depending upon the nature of the proposal, the Conservation Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals maybe required.

Bissnti - motion to make recommendation to the full council on the proposed zoning change. Motion accepted. (Will check on committee members later - hard to determine who they are in the mix of folks present)

Second item on the agenda

Kelly- recused himself from this discussion but remained sitting in his same position

Nutting - provides a summary of Roger Calarese the developer who made the proposal for the Emmons St property

(photo to be added of rendering of his proposal)

Roger Calarese (right) and Jeff Nutting (left)  at Economic Development Committee meeting
Roger Calarese (right) and Jeff Nutting (left)  at Economic Development Committee meeting

Joe Halligan - I think we have beaten this property to death. This is going on forever. We know his work, His is the only proposal.

Lisa Piana - Downtown Partnership Executive Director - objects to the possibility of a food drive through.

Padula - I'd like to make the recommendation to bring this before the council for a full vote.

Jane Curran - objecting also to the possibility to of a food drive through

Padula - with draws his motion as he is confused. He had not realized that the proposal as written would allow for a food drive through. He had assumed it would be a bank drive through.

Bissanti - the EDC meeting had not restricted the RFP that Mr Calarese had responded to

Nutting - that is a policy decision. You can make the change and re-do, or are you going to restrict it as it moves forward?

Bissanti - I wanted it open as there are lots of potential uses and wanted to get the best option we could. I don't think we can dictate what the market says can go there.

Padula - Here is my proposal, I would not be in favor of any drive through with a food establishment on it.

Calarese - the site is too small for a Burger King or McDonald's. It could be a coffee shot but there are issues with the location and how it would fit. It is not a done deal.

Verhagen - I like to go to a downtown where I can spend time and money at a shop downtown. The money doesn't only have to come from the sale of the land it can come from the sales of the goods and services

Joe Halligan - for everyone that is against the project, there are likely going to be more that would be for the project.

Beth Simon - I am here not be to against something. I am here to ensure that the integrity of the town is maintained. I change the color of my signs (Simon's Furniture) and I got calls from folks talking about the 'new' signs. The signs have been there for years. All I did was change the color so I am glad they got noticed.

Brian Kelly - let's be clear about what we are talking about. is it a drive through or sit down place?

Calarese - I don't see that as a detriment that a brand could be located on the corner, someone could in to Town to do something at Dean, see the sign, drive through, and then go to their event. Students could cross from campus almost everyday all year.

Susan Dewsnap - That is going to be an extremely busy intersection. You got a ton of traffic going through there.

Joe Halligan - all the improvements downtown are not going to increase the traffic, it is supposed to help improve the through put? The traffic will still go through the town

Lisa Piana - the streetscape is coming and that will be making changes to the traffic. Let's wait and see what will happen after that project is done.

Bissanti - this has been beat to death. He submitted an RFP with a drive through. I think we need to move this forward. We are going to get another bite at it when it comes to the Council.

Halligan - you have to give something to the developer to get something that will improve the estetics

Recommendation to go forward for discussion at the next Council meeting

move to adjourn, passed

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