Sunday, December 31, 2017

Charles River Meadowlands Initiative: Information and Children's Reading - Feb 2

To kick of 2018, the Charles River Meadowlands Initiative will be holding an information session on Feb. 2, International Wetlands Day AND Groundhog Day. We will be offering literature, information and a slideshow from 3-6 PM at the Franklin Public Library in the ground floor meeting room. Feel free to stop by and encourage anyone who might be interested to come, too. 

In ADDITION, we are co-sponsoring a reading of meteorologist Mish Michael's book, Ms. G. and Her Shadowy Road to Fame -- a children's book loosely based on the state's real life "official" Groundhog! Franklin Town Councilor Melanie Hamblen will be the guest reader at 3:30 in the Children's Room at the Library. For further information about the Ms. G. program, contact Children's Librarian Calleigh Keating (

For more about the Ms. G. book

For more about the Charles River Meadowlands Initiative 

Annual Report 2017: Board of Assessors

The Annual Report is compiled and published each year to be ready for voters to obtain at the November election. A PDF copy is also posted online and available for viewing our downloading. I'll highlight some key sections from the current report over the next week or so.

The following is a text representation of the printed pages 73-75 (actually 80-82 of 264)


Triennial Revaluation
The revaluation of all real and personal property in the Town of Franklin was completed Fall 2016 in preparation for Actual Fiscal Year 2017 3rd quarter tax bills. Following is a brief review of that achievement.

Data Collection
Fifteen years have now passed since we installed the real estate valuation and assessment administration software developed by Patriot Properties, Inc. Because our start-up data was from a different form of valuation system and most of our data had not been refreshed in nearly ten years, it was necessary to complete a town-wide data recollection program prior to finalizing the FY 2005 valuations. Patriot Properties was hired for this task. Over the past 12 years, our appraisal staff has performed the on-going property exterior measuring and interior inspecting for all real estate classes. Such reviews are done for the Department of Revenue (DOR) required cyclical program, as well as for building permitted changes, pre-appraisal and abatement verifications.

Field Review
In addition to individual property on-site review, field reviews are required periodically to check for obvious data accuracy and consistency. This drive-by review provides another level of assurance that when valuation schedules are applied, the results will be “Fair and Equitable”.

Commercial/Industrial/Apartment Valuations
Annually there are analyses of sales data as well as income & expense market data. The Board contracted Patriot to work with our Director to establish an income approach to value for each property. All requirements of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue were met through final approval of the FY 2017 valuations.

Sales Analysis
The majority of the sales analysis was completed by September 2016, and the interpretation of sales continued through the next two stages of valuation. The town-wide program resulted in a valuation system that was applied uniformly throughout the town, while reflecting all the adjustments warranted individually and by neighborhood, to result in “Full and Fair Cash Values” as per Massachusetts General Law.

Value Generation
A system of valuation was established based on valid property sales and where applicable the income approach to value. These schedules concluded from the market were then uniformly applied to all taxable and exempt real property.

Final Value Review
Final reviews were completed in preparation for the DOR review. These include studies of various computer generated reports to check for value consistency, final field checks required, and for DOR documentation and its analyses.

DOR Review and Final Approval
Any on-site and statistical reviews by the DOR took place from April to September 2016. The appraisal staff provided files, generated property records, answered questions and addressed any concerns. At the conclusion of the DOR review, we were granted approval authorizing public disclosure.

Public Disclosure
The DOR approved valuations were available for disclosure to the property owners. While the administrative staff provided property record cards and general data reviews, the appraisers conducted informal hearings on valuations.

Personal Property
Business assets and those of utilities are reviewed for valuation as taxable Personal Property. For sixteen fiscal years we have engaged the specialized services of Real Estate Research Consultants (RRC) in the discovery and valuation of these accounts. These services have served us well, resulting in DOR approval and consistently defendable valuations. Also, considerable new growth has been certified annually. Additionally, the RRC Personal Property Software installed in our office has benefited us. The personal property valuation formulas are very straightforward, and the administrative capabilities have met our needs.

Classification Hearing and Tax Commitment
Following some discussion and a few presentations relative to single versus split tax rates, the Council approved a single tax rate at $14.58 per $1,000 of taxable value as calculated by the Board for all property classes. The tax commitment and mailing were timely for an actual 3rd quarter tax bill.

Abatement Reviews
Upon mailing of the tax bills and on or before the due date of the first actual bill, property owners have an opportunity to file an Abatement Application on the basis of overvaluation or misclassification. 80 abatements applications were filed of 11,529 taxable accounts, or 7/10ths of 1%. Generally those with merit were resolved through our conducting a complete on-site exterior measuring and interior inspection. Usually a valuation discrepancy is the result of a data error or as a result of an inspection appointment not being arranged and thus the property data having been “estimated”.

Technology Improvements
In addition to our state-of-the-art software for the valuation and administration of both real and personal property, Cartographic Associates, Inc. (CAI) of Littleton, NH has continued to maintain the digital/GIS-mapping program it first completed for us for FY 2005. Following aerial photography and planimetric (physical features) mapping, CAI constructed cadastral tax maps (depicting parcels) through the use of over 5,000 plans and over 15,000 deeds. These new maps are continuously in our process of reconciliation with our property records for consistency in both parcel inventory and land area. With the support of Town Administrator Jeff Nutting and the Town Council, we have capacity in our Patriot software to link and utilize the maps with our assessment file. In addition, for the past twelve years we have provided our tax maps on the web for the benefit of both the Town staff and the general public.

Appraisal and Administrative Staffing
The use of automation has minimized the former heavy burden of traditional data processing. Due to this and numerous other office improvements, the Town approved our Staff Restructuring Plan. We have adjusted our administrative support staff to Board Secretary Anne Covell who is responsible for continuing to improve our service to the public at the counter and by phone. She focuses her efforts on providing and reviewing public records, Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Commitments and Abatements, Exemption Applications, the general and specific support to the Appraisal Staff and any other
assignments as required. She continues to train in various administrative duties and computer applications. We thank Anne for her diligence in 37 years of service to the Board. The Appraisers have made special efforts in the development and implementation of usable written instructions for the assessing office procedures and for MUNIS financial software applications. These instructions were developed consistent with all Mass. General Law and DOR requirements.

We thank Kevin W. Doyle, Director of Assessing for his diligence especially as Director beginning following his first two years here. He has overseen the completion of all our work these past sixteen fiscal years, six full revaluations and ten interim years of market adjustments. We are also pleased with the support work of Appraiser Peter Mooney since August 2004 and of Appraiser David Ruberti since July 2005. Our Director received his Massachusetts Accredited Assessor (MAA) in 1990. Within the past ten years both Appraisers completed their designation required education and experience, being granted their MAA designations and maintaining the periodic recertification required.

Town Revenue Enhancements
In addition to meeting all state requirements as well as daily office oversight, the Director and Appraisers have achieved many additional improvements to benefit the Town taxpayers. One such is the efficiencies built into the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Commitment and Abatement processes in conjunction with the new MUNIS tax software installation. These excise taxes represent about 4.9 million dollars in locally raised annual revenue, or about 6.5% of locally raised tax revenue. We assure the citizens that like real and personal property, taxes on these are assessed and abated appropriately and uniformly for the maximum benefit of all. Registry of Motor Vehicles’ automation aided the Director and Appraisers to further enhance revenue in assessing dealer and repair plate registrations. As well, with the automation improvements of the Environmental Police, this
professional staff successfully developed a new annual revenue stream in the identification and assessment of excise taxes on boats principally situated in the Town of Franklin.

On-site Periodic Property Reviews
Because we have initiated the cyclical property remeasurement and re-inspection program acceptable to the Massachusetts DOR, we continue to make various public information efforts to assure property owners have advance information about this on-going program. Briefly, please note that the purpose of these property visits is to verify that the correct data is being used in the determination of valuations to achieve “full and fair cash value” in accordance with Mass. General Law Chapter 59. The Board appreciates the general public’s cooperation in its efforts to serve all property owners in all property types to assure fair and uniform values.

Your Elected Board of Assessors
Before entering the performance of his/her duties, each Assessor upon election has taken the oath of office specific to assessors. Massachusetts General Law has provided that because the DOR Commissioner of Revenue has regulatory oversight of assessing in every city and town, the Commissioner likewise determines the training requirements for the assessors and any assistants. At this time, the Commissioner has determined Course 101, including the Classification Training Workshop, meets the minimum requirements. All three assessors have completed these and have been certified as such by the Commissioner of Revenue.

The Board looks forward to continuing education opportunities offered by the MA DOR and the professional associations, the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers (MAAO) and the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO). The assessors have attended seminars and workshops to broaden and reinforce their understanding of property tax law.

In particular, the Board has focused on current and possible future tax relief and deferral options for Franklin’s elder citizens. To that goal following meetings of the Town Senior Outreach Committee, last fall the Board, its Staff and the Office of the Council on Aging continued a broad-based effort to reach seniors. This resulted in successfully providing tax relief (exemption) information to additional seniors who owned and occupied their homes.

Also, with the valued assistance of new Veterans’ Agent Dale Kurtz, special efforts were made to identify veterans and their surviving spouses entitled to state exemptions, much of it reimbursable to the Town. We look forward to continuing to work with him in supporting our veterans. All these efforts are consistent with the Board of Assessors commitment to meet its challenges as key Town Financial Team members to the benefit of all the citizens of the Town of Franklin.

As we write, the Board of Assessors and its Staff are preparing to finalize the Real and Personal Property Appraisal files for the Fiscal Year 2018 Interim Year Update subject to DOR review and Final Certification.

Respectfully submitted,
W. Ken Norman, Chairman of the Board
Christopher K. Feeley, Assessor, Clerk
Donna Greenwood, Assessor, Member
Franklin Board of Assessors"

sample of real estate tax map showing the Public Library
sample of real estate tax map showing the Public Library

You can find more info on the Board of Assessors on the Town of Franklin webpage

You can find the online copy at the Town of Franklin webpage

and specifically for 2017

FHS girls and boys hockey record ties in game on Saturday

Via HockomockSports and Twitter we share the results of the FHS sports action on Saturday, Dec 30, 2017

Girls Hockey = Franklin, 0 @ Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 0 – Final

Boys Hockey = Franklin, 2 vs. Fairfield College Prep, 3 (2 OT) – Final
Josh Perry, Managing Editor of HockomockSports, provides the game recap:
"For the second time in three seasons, Franklin reached the championship game of the Mount St. Charles Holiday Face-Off at the venerable Adelard Arena and for the second time the Panthers were unable to come up with a third win in three days to claim the first place trophy.

Joe Mancini of Fairfield Prep (Conn.) scored his second goal of the game with 3:37 remaining in the second overtime to give the Jesuits the 3-2 victory in a game that featured non-stop, end-to-end action right from the opening face-off.
“I’m happy with the effort for sure,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane, whose team does take home a point, as the game will be officially recorded as a 2-2 tie for MIAA purposes. “Three games in three days and all three were sort of like this; nothing was easy here. 
“So, at the end of the day we were happy with what we got. Sure, it’s a nice moral boost to get the victory, but we sort of ran out of gas. You could see that three days of hockey took its toll.”
Continue reading the article online

For the HockomockSports photo gallery

Franklin senior forward Brendan O’Rielly scored a pair of goals in regulation, but Fairfield Prep (Conn.) scored with three minutes left in the second overtime to win the championship at the MSC Holiday Face-Off. (Josh Perry/
Franklin senior forward Brendan O’Rielly scored a pair of goals in regulation, but Fairfield Prep (Conn.) scored with three minutes left in the second overtime to win the championship at the MSC Holiday Face-Off. (Josh Perry/

Via the Twitterverse

Franklin Library: Closed Sunday/Monday for holiday

The Franklin Library is closed today (Dec 31)  and Monday (Jan 1). Yes, schools are also closed for New Year's Day. And for Martin Luther King Day on Jan 15.

Franklin Library: Closed Sunday/Monday for holiday
Franklin Library: Closed Sunday/Monday for holiday

Parmenter sign with current events
Parmenter sign with current events

The calendar for the 2017-2018 school year can be found on the Franklin Public Schools webpage'

Meeting notes archive for 2017


Finance Committee (FinCom)

School Committee  (SchCom)

Town Council (TC)

Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Annual Report 2017: Advisory Committee

The Annual Report is compiled and published each year to be ready for voters to obtain at the November election. A PDF copy is also posted online and available for viewing our downloading. I'll highlight some key sections from the current report over the next week or so.

The following is a text representation of the printed page 73 (actually 80 of 264)


The Council Advisory Committee annual report for 2016 is as follows.

The Advisory Committee held four meetings during the year, and its work consisted, largely, of updating and reviewing past initiatives with reviewing two significant proposals.

The first involved a thirty-four unit condominium development which was primarily a matter-of-right with some minor revisions and was fully supported by the Committee and the Council. It is now before the Planning Board.

The second proposal was for a sub-division of approximately 37 units of upscale housing under a private home ownership/condominium form of ownership. Said development which fit the parameters of a newly established Zoning district, Zone 7. The proposal was fully supported by the Advisory Committee and endorsed by same, sending a recommendation of support to the Council. However, the council failed to support a two thirds majority (6) needed for approval of the Zoning change.

It was then, and remains, the position of the Committee, that development that benefits the community at large, which the foregoing development did, that it is incumbent of the Councilors to make decisions based on that standard and not to succumb to either political posturing or influence. Which, in my opinion, and other members, concur, caused the failure of this legislation to pass. This opinion, certainly in no way is to either disregard or
ignore valid argument in opposition, or to recognize the independence of the Council and it’s obligations to the electorate, but rather to seek decisions that positively impact the community at large and particularly have a positive economic and aesthetic impact. Indeed, the assessment of the Committee of that action left many members wondering whether to continue serving if the opinions and charge of the committee, as defined by the Council, is not being recognized. The Advisory Committee has agreed to serve until the November election and will then decide whether to continue.

Certain past discussions and topics which the Committee has addressed, and the Council and Administration have implemented: some ongoing, others concluded are: Cook’s Farm, train station, downtown revitalization, fasttracking development, South Franklin Historic Meeting House, rezoning, the Community-Business concept, old town hall development, Thompson Press development proposal, the recycle center (Town Dump), removal of temp classrooms at Davis Thayer, improvements to Davis Thayer, the Gate Way concept as well as numerous meetings and discussions to encourage and support commercial development in our central business district. Commercial Development in South Franklin, and proposing the town move to acquire the land on 140/495, which currently houses a salt barn and storage site, and has significant potential and value to the community and was, at one time, acknowledged by the state as such.

Our role is to create and/or add to the discussion, and to that end, I am obliged to the Committee and those members of the Council, staff and administration for their support and contribution; to the many municipal employees who are second to none; and the many volunteers and residents who help make our community a special place.

Thank you all in behalf of the Committee.
L.P. Benedetto, Chairman

Paul Cheli, Vice Chair
Judith Pond Pfeffer, Vice Chair
Robert Ficco
Bruce Hunchard
Diane Daddario Jardine
Robert Vallee

Associate Members
Joseph Halligan
Paul Compton
Rick Circone"

The Franklin Dean MBTA station
The Franklin Dean MBTA station

You can find the online copy at the Town of Franklin webpage

and specifically for 2017

FHS boys hockey advances to final at Mt St Charles; wrestling finishes 7th (of 76); FHS girls run team pentathlon

Via HockomockSports and Twitter we share the results of the FHS sports action on Friday, Dec 29, 2017

Boys Hockey

The semi-final game for the Mt Saint Charles Tournament
Boys Hockey = Franklin, 2 vs. Bishop Guertin, 1 – Final

Other results around the Hockomock League

Indoor Track

The FHS girls indoor track team participated in a team pentathlon on Friday. The "A" team finished 4th, the "B" team finished 6th.


Wrestling = Lowell Holiday Tournament (Canton, Foxboro, Franklin, Stoughton) 
– Franklin had the best showing among Hock teams, placing seventh overall with 112.5 points. Jordan Carlucci (126) placed fifth overall and TJ Remillard (132) took seventh in his bracket. For Foxboro, senior Phil Dure was eighth overall in the 126 bracket and the Warriors earned 64 points. Canton earned 50 points and Stoughton had 31 points.

Complete results bracket by bracket for the wrestling meet can be found online

FHS Panthers
FHS Panthers

"The reason for the unique color and spots goes back over 600 million years"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

"It’s well known to true Milfordians that the famous Milford pink granite is used in landmark structures around the country like Grand Central Station in New York and the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., but there are still a few that are less known to even the most avid townies. 
Anne Lamontagne, of the Milford Historical Commission, found that the William McKinley Tomb in Canton, Ohio, as well as the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio, overlooking Lake Erie are both made completely of the indigenous rock. 
She also said that parts of the base of the Statue of Liberty, and even parts of the Escadrille Memorial la Fayette in France."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

The Franklin Library also is a showcase for the Milford granite
The Franklin Library also is a showcase for the Milford granite

Town Offices Closed on January 1

Town Offices Closed on January 1

Town Offices Closed on January 1
Town Offices Closed on January 1

This was shared from the Town of Franklin webpage

Franklin Library: New Year's Eve Party - Dec 30 - 10:00 AM

Celebrate New Year's Eve early by partying at the Franklin Library on Saturday from 10:00 AM to Noon.

Franklin Library: New Year's Eve Party - Dec 30 - 10:00 AM
Franklin Library: New Year's Eve Party - Dec 30 - 10:00 AM

This was shared from the Franklin Library webpage

Friday, December 29, 2017

Upcoming Events in Franklin, MA Area: FRI 12/29/17 - THU 1/4/18

FRIDAY 12/29/17
10:30am   Fairytale Snow Queen Party @ Franklin Public Library
11:30am   Mommy and Me Fitness (ages 3-8) @ Fairmount Fruit Farm

SATURDAY 12/30/17
10am-12pm   Noon Year’s Eve Party @ Franklin Public Library
11am-1pm   Happy New Year Party @ Kidz Plaster Zone
2pm   Franklin Public Library Closing

SUNDAY 12/31/17
All Day   Franklin Public Library Closed

All Day   Franklin Public Library Closed

TUESDAY 1/2/18
10:30am   Get Ready for Kindergarten @ Franklin Public Library
11:15am   Toddler Playgroup @ Franklin Public Library
6:30pm   Friends Book Group @ Franklin Public Library

10am   Animal Tales (for ages 2.5-5) @ Fairmount Fruit Farm
10:30am   Terrific Toddlers @ Franklin Public Library
11am   Toddler Playgroup @ Franklin Public Library
4pm   Construction Junction @ Franklin Public Library
6:30pm   Friends of Franklin Public Library Meeting @ Franklin Public Library
6:30pm   YA Dystopian Book Club @ Franklin Public Library

9:30am   Baby Tummy Time (ages 0-18 months) @ Franklin Public Library
10:30am   Story and Craft @ Franklin Public Library
11:15am   Toddler Playgroup @ Franklin Public Library
7pm   Healing Hearts Community Support Group @ Franklin YMCA 

Guide to Holiday Lights and Events (includes Franklin, MA) click HERE.

For the Town of Franklin Public Calendar click HERE.

For all other events and Franklin happenings click HERE.

*To submit an event for the Community Calendar, please use this FORM.

Review of Meadowlands Initiative in 2017; Events for your 2018 Calendar

The Charles River Meadowlands Initiative looks back on a busy 2017 and forward to a promising new year. During the course of the year we met several times as a group to discuss plans and opportunities. The First Universalist Society of Franklin was a generous host and Sue Bencuya and Paul Sager provided coordination and opened the premises for us. We have continued to receive guidance from the Metacomet Land Trust and active participation from Metacomet Treasurer Susan Speers.

We also had a chance to provide written input and suggestions to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in its periodic review of its Master Plan for the Charles River Natural Valley Storage Area, the land holdings of which are the focus of our efforts in Bellingham, Franklin, and Medway. Significantly, this document outlines the tripartite mission of the Corps relative to the CRNVSA – namely flood control, conservation, and recreation. During a public hearing held in Millis on April 19 by the USACE, a large contingent of Meadowlands people participated – offering comments and suggestions and strongly emphasizing the expectation that the Corps will do more in the future to support the recreation aspect of its mission through helping to develop access points, launching sites, etc.

We presume that concerns expressed at the hearing have been acknowledged and recognized in the document. At this writing, the finalized Master Plan is working its way through the USACE as it awaits final approval. When that occurs, we expect that the local Corps officials will be able to meet again and, in particular, will respond to a pending meeting request to discuss the Meadowlands, made by the Town of Franklin.

At the request of a Meadowlands participant from Bellingham we also shared the "message" about the desirability of preserving the lands surrounding the CRNVSA holdings as the town prepared to approve the economic development of a large land parcel. While we were pleased to have this opportunity, in fact the town had been working with the developer of the site along High Street in Bellingham, to reserve a buffer area close to the Charles for walking trails and to minimize disturbance to the land. This now appears to be "baked in" to the process – a real boon for a beautiful and now more accessible area.

State Representative Jeff Roy is continuing to monitor the fate of the earmark he proposed and passed along with Rep. Kevin Kuros and former Rep. John V. Fernandes on behalf of the Initiative. As is often the case with state spending, authorized funds are used subject to the discretion of the administration; so, whether this money will eventually turn into action at the relevant state agency is still anybody's guess.

In October, the Initiative held an ambitious walk – and slog – between Oak Street Extension in Franklin and White Ave in Franklin. The event attracted about 20 local residents. Although there is a narrow margin of dry Federal land, we initially opted for the wetter route to avoid brambles and private property. However, the route eventually emerged into beautiful upland fields and tall stands of evergreens rarely visited by people. Two Franklin town council candidates attended the event. The event showed that the long-term possibility of connecting multiple points along the eastern side of Mine Brook, though the route nearest Oak Street Extension will clearly require more engineering. [We have also been reminded by the Franklin Conservation Agent that ConCom restrictions will loom large.]

Finally, in December, we provided a short document – requested earlier in the year by the Franklin Town Administrator -- describing the most achievable near-term actions that the town could take to enhance access to the Meadowlands via town land. These suggestions included working closely with the developer of the Montage condominiums on Pond Street to link their planned trails to existing marked trails in town lands extending to White Avenue. At present, the developer is committed to providing a small public parking lot with access to a loop trail around the property and a spur directly to Mine Brook to permit launching small watercraft. [NOTE: Parallel discussions with the Town Planner have this action under study – with plans to get a town GPS team on site early in 2018 to make the proposal more concrete and specific.] Potential key additions to town lands were also outlined as well as a suggestion that signage be provided at trail heads and that the town investigate the feasibility of adding downstream access to Mine Brook. Lastly, we suggested a "second look" at a canoe launch to the Charles River proposed many years ago from Plain Street and put off due to site conditions. With the removal of the dam upstream of this location (Pearl St. Bellingham), the site may have new relevance.

Review of Meadowlands Initiative in 2017
Review of Meadowlands Initiative in 2017
Looking ahead to 2018 we hope to continue meeting periodically as needed for planning purposes but the year will be kicked off on Feb. 2 (Groundhog Day and World Wetlands Day) with an information session for the general public at the Franklin Public Library from 3-6 pm. We are also "sponsoring" a related activity in the Children's Room – a reading of "Ms. G's Shadowy Road to Fame" (a fictionalized treatment of the story of our official State Groundhog!) with Town Councilor Melanie Hamblen as volunteer reader.

On April 22 (Earth Day), we will lead a walk into the Franklin section of the Meadowlands – time and location to be announced.

Other suggestions for 2018 are welcome. Please send them along!


Alan Earls​