Saturday, January 14, 2017

Part 1: Residential VII an Area on Summer Street - Dec 21 Town Council meeting

The Town Council held a public hearing at the Dec 21, 2016 meeting to discuss a proposed zoning map change. The Bylaw amendment would change the zoning for a parcel of property on Summer St from Residential I to Residential VII. The change would allow the single home on the 11+ acres property today to be rezoned to enable up to 30+ homes instead of the 7-8 homes it is currently zoned for.

The second reading of the bylaw proposal is scheduled for the Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Jan 18. The minutes from the Dec 21 meeting for the section of the hearing on this matter are shared below. 

Note: the Town Council has not yet accepted the minutes. As part of the agenda on Wednesday, they have a chance to make any recommended changes to these before they become part of the official record.

This is Part 1 of a series to collect the development of the Residential VII Zoning history in one place. The Residential VII zoning bylaw was discussed, written, and approved in 2013 and then applied to Cook's Farm in 2014. The Council meeting Wednesday is to decide if this zoning bylaw should be applied to the Summer St parcel. Additional items in this series will include information around the parties to the development, the timeline, and the written and recorded meetings.

If the zoning change were accepted, the developer would still be required to come forward with the formal proposal for the land and homes to be built. The Planning Board would hold their public hearings before issuing the permits required. Other sections of the Town government (Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation Commission, etc.) would get involved depending upon the nature of the proposal. 

Based upon what happened with the Cook's Farm situation, once the Town Council approved the zoning change, they were no longer involved in the project. The Town Council is a legislative body, they enact the bylaws, the other boards, and commissions and town departments are responsible for ensuring the the process and regulations are adhered to. 

*** From the Town Council meeting of Dec 21, 2016 ***


► Zoning Bylaw Amendment 16-775: Amendment – Zoning Map Changes from Rural Residential I to Residential VII an Area on Summer Street. 

MOTION to Open the public hearing by Mercer. 
SECOND by Padula. No Discussion. 
►VOTE: Yes-8, No-0. (Bissanti - recused)

■ Mr. Richard Cornetta, Attorney representing Grandis Homes LLC, and Mr. Mounir Tayara, Principal of Grandis Homes, addressed the Town Council. Attorney Cornetta stated Grandis Homes is an active real estate development company based out of Medway, MA. They have been involved in about 1,000 residential units from residential homes to apartment style and condominiums. He stated Mr. Tayara is familiar with the Town of Franklin’s bylaws and regulations. 

Attorney Cornetta stated this is a petition for a proposed zoning amendment to the bylaw and would be an amendment to the zoning map. Mr. Bruce Hunchard and Ms Gwynne Hunchard are the petitioners and owners of 496 Summer Street, an 11-acre parcel. 

This parcel includes their primary single-family home; the remainder of the land is wooded, undeveloped. This petition is a map amendment to change the zoning map from Rural Residential I to Residential VII. He reviewed procedural issues, provided an overview of the legislative intent of the Residential VII bylaw, and addressed the Master Plan including how this development addresses some of those goals. 

He stated they received unanimous agreement by the Planning Board for recommendation to the Town Council for this map amendment. The development proposal is for 34 three-bedroom, single-family residential town homes. There would be a homeowner’s association set up for the maintenance of the infrastructure improvements. He discussed the definition of spot zoning and case law. 

He noted a possible misconception in the interpretation of one person benefitting. He stated if it can be demonstrated that the general public can benefit then spot zoning does not exist in that circumstance. He reviewed some financials provided to the Town Council and claimed it would be a net-positive for the town. 

■ Chairman Kelly noted he received a letter from Lawrence Benedetto, Chairman of the Franklin Advisory Committee, endorsing the project. 

■ Mr. Nutting stated he had no comment. 

Citizens’ Comments: 
■ Mr. Dave Nichols, 486 Summer Street, stated this is spot zoning. Changing this zoning will not have any positive impact for the neighbors, the neighborhood, the abutters, or Summer Street in general. This will benefit very few. Summer Street is already too fast and dangerous. This does not fit the character of the
neighborhood. He said the only thing he can do is appeal and challenge this zoning change. He cannot believe this is due process. 

■ Ms. Sally French Winters, 486 Summer Street, has been there for 33 years
with no neighbors. When she found out the developer was intending to also buy Mr. Wajer’s home at 488 Summer Street, she looked at the map. The proposed access road will come 400 ft. along her driveway and property. She will be living in a construction zone. She has lived in town for 59 ½ years and finds it
deplorable that this could be done. She provided pictures to the Town Council. This will forever change her life. This is an invasion of her privacy. 

■ Mr. Kurt Lovell, 711 Summer Street, stated he has lived here most of his adult life. This zoning from R-I to R-VII is ridiculous. The town forest abuts this property. Is this setting a precedent for R-VII zoning? Traffic is a major concern. 

■ Ms. Annamaria Bailey, 715 Summer Street, stated she has been a resident of Franklin for over 20 years. It is a nice country road; it is not commercial. Summer Street is not downtown living. Issues with water resources have not been addressed. Do we want this kind of housing; we are trying to preserve a community. Cook’s Farm looks horrific coming into town. What do we want this town to look like beyond the money? We do not need to develop every pocket. We oppose this and hope you will also. 

■ Ms. Deborah Lovell, 711 Summer Street, would like all to think about if this were happening to your neighborhood, would you want it? Would you want 34 houses put in that little area and have the additional traffic? Franklin is one of the safest communities, are we going to change that? We have always had faith in the Town Council so please consider that. 

■ Mr. Eric Bearce, 493 Summer Street, stated his concern is traffic. An urbanized
development does not fit in with Summer Street and the neighborhood. ■Ms. Kimberly Spelman, 6 Great Pond Road, agrees with everything that has been said. The Town Council would be mistaken to think this will benefit anyone that is anywhere close to this property. It is not safe to walk from this area to
downtown. In order to go outside of the Master Plan there needs to be some overriding interest. What is that overriding interest? It cannot be the $250,000 per year revenue. 

■ Mr. Alan Nelson, 479 Summer Street, stated he has been there for 45 years. He will be almost across the street from this development. Traffic will be atrocious. It will double the number of single-family dwellings on the street. Ten years ago the town was petitioned to bring sewer to five houses on Summer Street; the town agreed to do that with the intent that only five existing single-family dwellings would be tied into that sewer because of the size of the sewer main. To add 34 houses, they will have to put a new sewer main on the street and no one has talked about that yet. It is the wrong project for this place. There are wetlands over there as well. 

■ Mr. Brian Concannon, 15 Summer Heights Drive, stated they have not presented a justified case to change the existing zoning. All around that area is one acre lots. They have not presented any hardship that they cannot develop it more in line with what is already around that area, one or two-acre lots. He noted they have not indicated that they will actually pay for the sidewalks. The project does not fit with the neighborhood. 

■ Ms. Cynthia Honcharuk, 403 Summer Street, stated Palladini Village did affect her land with the water runoff. There is all ledge over there. She has wildlife on her property such as deer, woodchucks and foxes. What will taking 11 acres away from the current conservation area do? She will appeal this. To overload the street with more houses is wrong. 

■ Mr. Adam Sanders, 483 Summer Street, stated he also had runoff effects from Palladini Village. The current traffic is very concerning and the speed which cars travel down the road. More cars added to the street will add serious traffic concerns and be dangerous. He will have cluster houses in the back of his home with Palladini Village and also in the front of his home with this project. He does not agree with this; it does not fit with the neighborhood.

■ Mr. Michael Gavrilles, 8 Squibnocket Road, stated he has walked from Squibnocket Road to the train station for 17 years and it is dangerous. Unless sidewalks are going to be installed, the development will not work and not be connected to the downtown area. 

■ Ms. Paige Duncan, 35 Gallison Street, read a letter from two practicing professional planners stating to not rezone this area. Reasons included that the
town should not try to rezone this to avoid 40B, but rather take leadership role and bring town back into compliance with the 10 percent minimum. The Town Council should update its Housing Production Plan before considering this rezoning. This proposed project is not addressing 40B at all and will set the town further back in reaching the 10 percent minimum. The location is not close to downtown and is not walkable, there is no affordability, not consistent with Master Plan, it is spot zoning, and it will benefit the owner and not the community. She asked how is this proposed zoning in this area for the greater good of the town? 

■ Mr. James Gianotti, 2 Woodchester Road, wonders why there is a Master Plan as it seems every month some zoning is being changed or amended. There was no evidence given that this conforms to the Master Plan. He stated the proposed project area is a natural path for many animals from the forest. If these houses are put in the pathway, they should just close the forest as there will be nothing in there. Is this the legacy you really want to leave your children and grandchildren with row housing in every five or ten acres? 

End of Citizens’ Comments 

■ Ms. Pellegri stated she agrees with everything the citizens have been saying. We as councilors are elected to look out for the best interest of the Town of Franklin, not an applicant; decisions should be made on what is best for the town. They have the right to build seven houses, why would we ever want to allow 34 houses? It is a strain on water,  sewer, schools, and traffic.

We must look out for the Town of Franklin. We open the doors for others to come forward. There is only one pro, and that is for the applicant. There is nothing else. 

■ Mr. Dellorco asked about the sewer main and if the neighbors had to be notified? Has anyone done a traffic study? What is the percentage of 40Bs?

■ Mr. Nutting stated the sewer and water mains would have to be extended at the applicants cost. Current percentage of 40Bs is 9.35. There have been discussions about sidewalks, but that would be part of any application. 

■ Mr. Cerel stated that if it were rezoned and they applied for a special permit, then neighbors would have to be notified; there is no requirement for notification of a rezoning. 

■ Mr. Tayara stated they are applying for three-bedrooms because the demographic they are looking to attract is people who will use those homes as lifetime homes and multi-generational homes. At an all-time high for college kids returning to live with parents. 

■ Mr. Padula asked Mr. Cornetta about the sidewalk. 

■ Mr. Cornetta said there have been discussions, but they are preliminary until they get through this first step and to the special permit phase of the project. 

■ Ms. Pfeffer stated she is in favor of manageable affordable housing. With 11 acres, there could be 120 affordable housing units there with no control over. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. These will be 34 high-end homes and probably not too many children. She stated she was going to vote for this. 

■ Mr. Mercer had similar concerns to those of Mr. Padula. If this goes forward and they return there will be issues he will want to strongly comment on.

■ Mr. Padula noted that the Planning Board approved this unanimously. 40B is a consideration. The Master Plan does call for cluster housing. He does not see it as spot zoning; he is in favor of the project. 

MOTION to Close the public hearing by Mercer. 
SECOND by Padula. No discussion. 
► VOTE: Yes-8, No-0. (Bissanti - recused)

The full agenda for the Town Council meeting Weds, Jan 18 can be found here

The Franklin Matters notes for the Dec 21 meeting can be found here

The Franklin TV video of the meeting can be replayed here

On Summer St, at the entrance to the Town Forest. Some of the land where the  trees are would be were the development in question would be positioned.
On Summer St, at the entrance to the Town Forest. Some of the land where the 
trees are would be were the development in question would be positioned.

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