Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Live reporting: public hearing - Pond St property

(Editorial note: with the video replay available as of 1/16/15, as I listen to the replay I can provide corrections to names and comments that had been taken live during the meeting on 1/7/15)

- Zoning Bylaw Amendment 15-745: Amendment to Chapter 185, Attachment 7, Part VI, Use Regulation Schedule, Residential Uses, Office Zoning District – 7:10 PM

Nutting - a single zoning district, the move would add the residential use to the area zoning

about 33 acres, about 20 is actually developable as the remainder are wetlands
looking to add multi-family housing, i.e. condominiums

not sure what kind of bids would be received, but it should improve the potential
would come back to the Council for sale agreement, and Planning Board for all the normal site implementation issues to be addressed

Paul Sager - Pond St resident
tremendous amount of traffic now on the street that been growing over time
anticipated increase in traffic and school requirements
Police are pulling folks over for speeding every night

Nutting - Once opened up to residential, the Council would make some requirements to limit the amount

Would need to add an extra access point for emergency access

Troy - how close would the building be to the drainage ditch, would there be buffer of tree, etc.

Nutting - we can't commit to that until we see what kind of proposal would come in. For a hotel, it would be minimal traffic (compared to other uses) and a greater income for the town.

What impact would it have on the neighboring land values?

if there was an industrial building that would be one thing. With additional

Glen Touhey - how many houses or condos would you allow on the site?

Vallee - it is a re-zoning issue tonight

Kelly - once re-zoned, it would go back to the Economic Development Committee and they would draft (with public input) the RFP

Glen Touhey - that is my concern, if it was Tokyo they could put a thousand...

Bissanti - I understand the gentleman's concerns, the RFP has been out a couple of times and the last time it did not meet what we needed. If the RFP comes back with a residential component, then it becomes part of the Planning Board process.

Padula - we need to balance the requirements

Glen - I am not opposed to development, I just would like to know what the limits are

Gail Ward - Question to the Council to see if anyone lives on Pond St or in the immediate area? (No councilors live in the immediate area.) I think there are ways to handle this. Make it valuable for us. We are not opposed to development but we want to make it valuable to us without making it a residential area. Why do we need more money as we did just raise taxes?

Nutting - we can increase your property taxes every year but beyond that we can do much. With costs going up, just like all your costs, the demands are much higher. Franklin doesn't like to vote for overrides, they are one for nine. Condos actually pay more money than it costs us. There were only 10% kids in the condos. Condos are less dense. It uses the space, softens the blow and bring in some income. We are looking for additional business taxpayers rather than residents.

Gail Irwin - I feel the due diligence is lacking. I heard about it from my neighbors. We have construction going on today with Starbucks and the Noodle company, what will that do to us. What will be the impact to the schools. We don't understand all the down stream implications of this decision. We want all the residents affected be informed.

Peg Helgaard - I am part of the community although far from the area. How does it affect our police and fire. I have sympathy with the folks on Pond St. If we really want to be a community, we have to be in this together.

Charles Otori - 
what about the old sewer beds? how much is that going to affect the construction?

Nutting - we have had an environmental study done, the sewer beds would be removed by the developer.

Otori - the trees would be cleared and that dims the highway traffic, if you take down the trees, we will hear them louder

Nutting - we own this land so we can control what gets put out to bid. This is a zoning change for a less dense use. Some people think this would be worse than what be by right.  One way or the other, it needs to be developed. We need to figure that out.

Otori - if we put in condos, we would need more grade schools. Apartments are a huge loss for Franklin.

Nutting - if you look at the stats for the other condos in Franklin

Padula - Come to the Economic Development Committee meetings, they are open so you can hear the due diligence we go through

Feldman - this is the first step, this is good input,. most of the times the seats are empty. We are not looking to develop every square inch of land. 

Glen Jones - what other zones are currently available on Pond St?

Nutting - it is already zoned for office, for bio-tech. If we don't sell the land, that is the council decision. It is no cost to get vetted in the public forum

John Pazniokas - What few people received the notice, they did receive them three days before the EDC meeting. Some folks could re-arrange the schedule to make the meeting. 

My major concern with a wide open RFP. Concerns of the neighbors would be outweighed by the dollars on the incoming RFP.

Padula - we don't have to sell this land 

Nutting - we broadened the notification 

Bryan Taberner - Planning and Community Development
there is no legal requirement for a zoning change, it could be an immense mailing effort, there were 63 letters sent out

John - I don't want to appear that we are stonewalling, we need the revenue, we need to be involved

Vallee - by law you have to be involved

Bissanti - by no means is the RFP wide open, there are three parameters in the RFP. Gauging the number of units based upon 2000 sq ft per unit. What this is doing is adding a carrot to the RFP to hopefully get better responses. This is all in keeping with the RFP that we already have. We like the hotel, we like the medical building. It is very restricted and the developer would have to be held to what is required.

Dellorco - we need to send it out for something, I am concerned about the traffic there. I don't want apartments down there. We should have workshops to get you involved, you have to be involved.

Stephanie Pazniokas - can you explain the restrictions on residential?

Nutting - multi-family can not be restricted, since we own the land, we can restrict it. If we decide we can restrict it to include condominiums

Stephanie - if we don't get something good, at what point does it become a change to get something sold? Doesn't have to be addressed here. 

"If somebody buys that land, those trees are going"

Stephanie - with no environmental impact now, with the removal of the sewer beds, there is a chance of other issues with that land.

Sandy Verhagen - reiterating what neighbors said, we want what is best for our town, we need the revenue. We are asking for us to get what is best too. it was discussed at the EDC, the rezoning would also be restricted. 

in the report, 2010, traffic accidents had increased due to increased traffic. That was then, what now. What about further down the line?

it is comments like Mr Halligan's that we could only widen the road to make it fit. Those kinds of comments get us scared. In discussion with a Franklin policeman, there are only 3 on duty over night. Is that part of the planning? Please take things into the consideration.

Jim Schultz - something is relevant, go to tri-county in rush hour, try to get out of the tri-county lot by making a left turn? I have to do that each morning and the thought of the impact is scary.

Elaine Murphy - abutter, I appreciate the non-abutters who are here. Good questions, good answers. I am happy to meet the Council. I almost didn't come tonight. It is America and there is hope. A mention was made about the horse and the carrot. We are the carrot, you are not the carrot that will feed the horse. EDC reports to you, the balance is being considered between the revenue to the Town and the residents with some impact. 

We talked about the woods, is it wide to diminish the woods. We have seen the sound barriers to go up elsewhere. Is it wise to encroach upon the wetlands? if we need a hotel and office space? there are places elsewhere. It is one of the few parcels that we could make some money on.

Why are we in such a hurry to put this out? before we see the effect of Starbucks and Noodles. The minutes of the EDC would be nice to have to help prepare.

Also at Monday's meeting buildings could be three stories high, it could be appealed to raise to five. It appears that the town is dancing to the tune of the potential buyers rather than to the residents.

I got to trust that the Council will not let bad things happen to the rest of us.

Troy - What about the wild life?

Nutting - it will go where ever they go. The wetlands would be covered by the Conservation Commission and other restrictions.

Peg, Oxford Dr - you answer could have been done a little more sensitively
I can address the noise. When the bridge was built, we can hear much more since the trees were taken down. Due diligence, it would be good for all of you to travel the roads during peak times for a week to see what it is like.

Phil Purvis, Pond St - traffic is horrendous. I have a 5 and 7 year old, the kids are not allowed in the front yard. It needs to be looked at more closely. Why have RFPs failed in the past? is it due to the wetlands, or the sewer beds? due to the cost? if that is the reason they have failed in the past, how large of a residential area needs to be built in order to make it worthwhile? How large are you going to build it up. it doesn't make me feel any better, with what happened in 2007, you want our input now but what about then.

Pfeffer - this is not being zoned residential. I learned how to ride horses down there. It is not going to be residential. We are trying to add a small residential piece to that.

Verhangen - That last comment is bringing up our concern, if you say that is not the goal, if you write the zone without a limit we could get something else later. 

Nutting - if someone builds a hotel and then in 40 years they come back and they come back to the Council, they may want to put residential there. There will be significant investment in the property. They might be separately owned.

Verhagen - for how long?

Nutting - they sign a development agreement

Cerel - it would be there are long as necessary for the purposes of developing the land.

Verhagen - If they are done building, after they have met the requirements, can they come back to look to add more? We would like some protection.

What was the response to the RFP?

Nutting - it came back with a hotel, medical building and 200 apartments; that didn't meet the requirements. The one in 2007 felt part due to the economy. We don't know what the responses to the RFP will be.

Padula - I asked that question, so you can see that we are doing the vetting to be concerned about what happens done the road

Colin Golin, Rolling Ridge Road - timeline? RFP how quickly will that be done?

Nutting - there is a public hearing, there is a second hearing, the EDC will likely take this up in Feb. That is where the discussion would take place.  The RFP process could be one or two meetings (Feb/Mar) 

Steve Quinlan - Pond St - what if we do nothing? what would be the impact? In terms of percentage wise or the budget?

Nutting - we would forgo the ongoing revenue of the sale and it could be about 1% of the property tax revenue ($600-700,000)

Paul Sager - we have grown from being 20 units to 50 units, to a building that might be five stories tall. If you're trying to keep it small to minimize impact, how much revenue would we get? So where do they draw the line? Without touching the residential part of it. You wouldn't lose that much income.

Troy - Why the need for office space there? With office space is available elsewhere and it is empty. I can see why a hotel would be desirable. Why not put something that would better the community?

Nutting - we don't control what the economy does with private property. We don't know what is going to be proposed. We are looking to see what they would propose? Parks don't produce revenue? If we can't afford to balance the budget, then services get cut.

Vallee - this is a conversation now, let's get get going.

Gail Irwin (again)
Shame on me for my first Council meeting, I am ashamed of your body movements, rolling of your eyes, letting us know of your expressions. I am very disappointed with you. We shouldn't have to feel we are judged by the people who are represented.

While audience was applauding, the motion was made to close the hearing. Catching the audience by surprise.

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