Friday, January 23, 2015

150 Emmons St sold, Pond St parcel re-zoned

One building sold, another parcel moving along the sale process, more money was added to the Legal budget and Franklin agreed to join with Bellingham and Hopedale in a community building grant application.

Emmons St

After so much to do in the Town Council meeting around the proposal for the 150 Emmons St building, the actual pair of resolutions to make the land available and then to authorize the sale agreement were conducted with little fanfare and no audience participation. There was a substantial audience but they were awaiting the next action item, the re-zoning of the Pond St property.

Attorney Cornetta representing the purchaser was present and left the meeting after both resolutions passed by 8-0 votes with one Councilor recusing himself (Kelly). Members of the Franklin Downtown Partnership, which had lobbied extensively against a drive through, especially if it were to be food service related were not present.

The deal to complete the sale of the property will take approx. four months to complete. In the meantime, Franklin will be looking to relocate the Recreation Dept which is the primary occupant of the current facility. 

150 Emmons St - to be redone as a 'gateway' to Franklin
150 Emmons St - to be a 'gateway' to Franklin

Pond St

On the re-zoning of the Pond St property, members of the neighborhood were much better prepared than for their first exposure to this at the Jan 7th meeting. They spoke at length, in detail, and raised applause on many good points. 

Ultimately, the Council did not agree to a delay on the vote but did amend the resolution to change the 2,000 sq ft requirement to 3,000. This was clearly a compromise on their part to help provide some of the restrictions that the Pond St neighbors were asking for.

Note: As an observer of many of these meetings with public sessions, it was good that the Council apparently suspended their time keeping for each speaker. Given the poor behavior of some of the Council during the Jan 7th meeting where their inappropriate comments were broadcast and recorded, this was a good move.  
For reference the "Visitor's Orientation to Meetings" can be found here 
Copies of this document are generally kept on the small table outside the door to the Council Chambers. 
Note: I also found it interesting that the Town Council did not acknowledge or apologize for their individual behavior and comments at the prior meeting. Had they done so, it could have changed the nature of the relationship. 
The Pond St propery discussion now moves to the Economic Development Committee (EDC) meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Jan 28th. It will be held in the 3rd floor training room of the Municipal Bldg beginning at 6:30 PM. With the parcel re-zoned, the RFP can be drafted to include this 'carrot' for potential developers. 

The RFP would come back to the Town Council for their approval before being advertised as available. The RFP usually would advertise for a 2-3 month period. any proposals submitted for it would first be reviewed at an EDC meeting and then brought with a recommendation to the Council for a decision. If a sale was recommended, it would follow similarly to the Emmons St property. 

The parcel would be declared surplus, an authorization for sale would be reached and eventually concluded. At such time, the developer would then begin the development process working with the Planning Board, Conservation Commission, and other bodies to obtain the necessary permits to begin.

Legal budget increased

Another $50,000 was added to the Legal budget. This line item started with about $45,000 was increased by $30,000 earlier this fiscal year. Most of this attributed to the protracted negotiations with the fire fighters union but not totally associated with it.

Community development grant

Franklin approved signing an agreement to join with Bellingham and Hopedale on this communty grant application. As reported from the Jan 7th meeting, Bellingham would be the lead community doing most of the work but Franklin would also benefit. 

What would this do for us? It would provide some grants or low interest loans for homeowners in the specified area (central Franklin) for those (if they met income requirements) to use for home improvements.

The agreement to join the application can be found on page 10 of the Council agenda here:

My full set of notes reported live during the meeting on Wednesday can be found here

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