Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Response to your email from the Franklin Town Council Chairman, Matt Kelly

Thank you for your email and facebook comments. The Town Council actively monitors all town websites, facebook pages and other media sources to insure that we have utilized every avenue to keep our citizens informed. In 2015 when my fellow councils voted me as Chairman of the Franklin Town Council my fellow councilors and I asked Councilor Glenn Jones to act as communications liaison of the council. Councilor Jones along with Assistant Town Administrator Jamie Hellen have been instrumental in more than tripling the amount of communication that is done with the Franklin residents than in any past councils. With that said, we as a council would be the first to seek more ways to communicate with the residents of our community on a regular basis, as well as encourage all citizens to attend our meetings.

Franklin's water supply is made up of multiple shallow wells around our community that have the consistency to pump more than 6 million gallons of water each day to our citizens. Each drop of water is tested, treated if need be and treated prior to reaching our faucet. In doing so Franklin has always been known to have some of the best water in our state. As we all know, water is also a precious resource that must be monitored and carefully protected. Each year our DPW director along with the Town Administrator applies to the state for permitting and expected usage quantities, this is done to insure we never over use our water supply and continue to have wells for years to come. Often along with the permitting comes a standard that Franklin agrees to adhere to. For example our average daily consumption of water during a year is approximately 2.6 million gallons, however in one Sunday during the month of June 2016 Franklin consumed over 4 million gallons of water! When spike such as this happens our DPW Director will immediately issue a water ban to get usage back inline and keep people from abusing our valuable resource.

As summer months and hot days arrive its important that we continue our water ban so that people will again not abuse the system by filling pools, water lawns endlessly, etc. At no time during my 10 years as an elected official have I ever been part of a meeting that Franklin officials or staff were concerned about running out of water. As a side note for many years we also owned the permitting rights to a well in Millis in case of such emergency, we have also never used another communities water for as long as I can recall.

Franklin has approximately / estimated 2,500 lots left to build on before we hit what the planning department would consider us as built-out status. Franklin's water plan and infrastructure has been built to assume these now lots as the come online. As a town, Franklin has also been very lucky to have many of these developers build parks, concession stands, sidewalks, and even donate hundreds of acres back to the town so that it can not be built on in the future.

Growth in any community is tough and the Town Council and Planning Board have continued to toughen the permitting process and standards that are required to build in Franklin. One example is our requirement that all subdivisions have concrete sidewalks and straight granite curbing, this adds hundreds or thousands of dollars to a builders cost and we have seen multiple developers leave Franklin because the cost to build didn't warrant the price of the land or sale of the home.

However, the developments that were mentioned on the Facebook post are most commonly known as 40B developments. The developments are not planned, promoted or approved by the town of Franklin. The developers for these sites can skip the town and go right to the state for approval. Once approved the town can try and stop the development, however due to the state regulations and after these court battles we end up costing our tax payers tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars and the developer is allowed to build anyways. As a side not, if we do say no the state will pull funding from the town leaving us without valuable money for our schools, police and fire. The only way out of this is to achieve 10% or more 40B units in the town of Franklin. As a community we have hit this number before, however the calculations reset at each census. To put is bluntly is is a losing battle for Franklin and many other communities across the commonwealth.

As a council we agree that built in thousand of new homes in our community is not an answer, nor is it what we want. The Franklin Town Council has taken a stance to look at smart growth which will not only promote new homes in areas that can absorb them into our schools suffering from smaller class sizes, but also growth within our industrial and commercial areas that will allow our residents to work and live in the community that they love. As the economy improves as residents we will see more development in our community, I urge you and other members of our community to keep in mind that this is less of a Town Council and Planning Board who are anxious to build on our available lots, however more a result of our growing economy and a community that people are flocking to because of its geographical location, family friendly atmosphere and economic opportunities.

Please feel free to reach out at anytime and as always your welcome attend any of our meetings. I want to personally thank you for emailing me with your concerns as well.

Matt Kelly
Franklin Town Council

The full Facebook thread can be found here

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