Friday, May 8, 2015

Sidewalks, beer/wine license, and RFPs draw large crowd to Town Council meeting

There was almost a full house at the Town Council Meeting on Wednesday evenings. The coincidence of the agenda drew many members of the community for their particular interest along with the major department heads for their capital budget needs.

Neighbors along Chestnut St who had signed a petition looking for sidewalks got a commitment to be included in the design process. Sidewalks were approved for Pleasant St (from St Mary's down to Miller). The design study would look at a sidewalk from Griffin all the way up Chestnut to 140. Another phase of work would look at sidewalks along Washington St. These sidewalks were all identified as desired in the Master Plan published in 2013

Neighbors along Pond St gathered to see the discussion and vote by the Town Council to approve two RFP's. One to offer the land for lease for a potential solar farm. The second would be offering the land for sale for a multi use development including some residential but not apartments. Both RFPs were approved. This is the first of about an 8 step process according to Town Administrator Jeff Nutting. Responses to the RFPs will be reviewed by the Economic Development Committee before being brought to the Council for discussion and decision.

National Small Business Week
National Small Business Week

The Lenzi family and supporters of small business also gathered to participate in the discussion around a beer/wine license for the Big Y. After hearing arguments for an against the proposal, the Council voted 8-1 to award the license to the Big Y. Councilor Dellorco was the only 'no' vote. The 'yes' votes were essentially won over by the financial benefits that the Big Y has brought to Franklin (new construction, road improvements, and substantial tax contribution) as well as the license is only for beer/wine. The other two small businesses (Franklin Liquors and Davitas) have full liquor licenses. The argument of providing a convenience to the Big Y customers won the day. The Big Y is a MA based family owned company.

For the other license transactions on the agenda, British Beer Company did not show up so their item was continued to the next meeting. Guru now doing business as Chinese Mirch received approval for their DBA change.

The Council spent less time approving $1.7 million dollars for a variety of capital improvements. This continues the financial practice of using 'free cash' to fund the capital needs of Franklin. From putting money aside for new fire truck, adding money to the fund to replace the turf fields, to funding the removal of the modular units at Davis Thayer, protective vests for the police, emergency air units for fire fighters to highlight a few. In Capital Subcommittee Chair Matt Kelly's words, it was like Christmas morning. Everybody got something on their wish list.

In the last minute juggling of the agenda to make progress while waiting for the 7:10 time for the public hearings to begin, Alan Mercer provided an update on the Franklin Cultural District and this summer's Franklin Cultural Festival. 

Franklin TV was also scheduled for an update on the cable operations and ended up rescheduling for next time.

Tucked among the action items is a surprise rate reduction for the Trash/Recycling. The current rate is $216 and it will be reduced to $200. All the work with the single stream trash/recycling is continuing to pay off. Literally in our case with the savings coming to the rate payers. This is the lowest the rate has been in years. It may still go up some time in the future but not some much each time and maybe not for a couple of years. We all can enjoy the savings in the meantime!

My set of notes recorded live during the meeting can be found here

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