Monday, October 17, 2016

Jeff Nutting's Letter to the Town Council - Housing Growth Summary

Lately, I have been approached by landowners/developers (L/D) seeking my opinion on whether the Town will provide a zoning change so they can develop their land into Condos, Apartments and Zone 7 (which allows 4 times the density of Rural Residential zoning). All the requests require a zoning change for the L/D. While a project may offer some benefit, it is the Town Council that needs to decide on zoning and the pace of development you want for Franklin.

The Town Council adopted an updated Master Plan in 2013 as a road map to continued improvements for the citizens of Franklin. The plan covered a wide range of topics many which the Council have embraced to date, most notably zoning changes, sidewalk construction, as well as open space /recreation issues.

Currently, the economy seems to be in good shape and the demand for housing in Franklin is higher than it has been in a long time. You will recall the tremendous growth of the 1990's and the various steps Town Council took to reign in the growth. They rezoned residential land to industrial land, adopted over-55 housing, bought open space when available, adopt the water and sewer extension bylaws, a growth control bylaw, the so-called circle bylaw, etc. Further, the Council voted for an impact fee on new homes that was rejected by the Court. All the efforts to control development happened after the spike in housing production of the mid- 1990's and the fast growth created problems that we are still dealing with today. Housing starts continued in the early 2000's at a slower pace and then the recession of 2008 reduced development further.

In review, dwelling units created in the last five years by the Building Commissioner reports the following dwelling units:

  • 2011 - 20 units
  • 2012 - 57 units
  • 2013 - 48 units
  • 2014 - 47 units
  • 2015 - 38 units

This does not count the two developments on King Street and East Central Street with a total of over 250 units for elderly citizens.

Since 2012, we are averaging about 48 units a year. This seems to be a reasonable and steady growth. Franklin is now at a crossroad again concerning proposed dwelling units. Currently, there are over 800 units in various stages of development.

Under Construction (Various Stages)

  • Weston Woods - 40B Apartments - 280
  • Lorraine Metcalf – Subdivision - 4
  • Cooks Farm - Condos  - 55
  • Lincoln Street - Subdivision - 9
  • County Side Estates - Subdivision - 8
  • Franklin Heights - Condos - 7
  • Winter Gardens- Subdivision - 5


  • Uncas Ave - Subdivision - 18
  • Upper Union Street - Subdivision - 7
  • East Central Street - Apts. - 7
  • Chestnut Street - Over 55 - 10

Before Planning Board

  • Maple Street - Subdivision 10

In the Works

  • Madeline Village -  40B  =  30-40 Decision by ZBA by end of year  
  • Pond Street  - Condos  =  96 Expects to file prior to end of year
  • At the end of Dean Ave - Apartments = 250 - Expects to file prior to the end of year
  • West Central Street - Condos =  30 ?? Recently rezoned 
  • Others units that are currently approved = 20 +/-  or under construction

Total possible Dwelling Units 800 +/-

While not all of these units will be constructed at once, we could see well over 600 units in the next 3 years. Further, we do not know how many other "as of right" dwelling units may be proposed in the next couple of years.

The housing development speaks well to Franklin's quality of life and all the improvements that have happen over the last 15 years under the leadership of the various Town Councils that make Franklin a desirable community to live.

Does the Town Council want to maintain the zoning plan adopted in the Master Plan or make changes to the plan? Providing a clear message to L/D's makes a lot more sense than dealing with zoning on a case-by-case basis. It is hard to say yes to one person and no to the next if you do not have an overall game plan.

I suggest this topic be put on a Council agenda or workshop in the near future. I am happy to answer any questions.

Jeff Nutting

new Cook's Farm being built under the Residential 7 bylaw on RT 140
new Cook's Farm being built under the Residential 7 bylaw on RT 140

  • Additional info is contained in the full PDF,%202016/R7%20HANDOUTS%201%20AND%202.pdf


  1. Can the schools handle that kind of growth?

    1. Not sure, the school department has enough of a budget issue handling the current requirement. The elementary school population has been in decline recently and that has in part helped avoid real problems. With the positive turn in the economy the population will grow again and that will increase pressures. Education costs currently outpace revenue growth.