Monday, January 16, 2017

Part 3 - Residential VII processing during 2014

This is Part 3 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.

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The Residential VII bylaw was passed in Nov 2013 by the Town Council and the developer began working through the process.

June 18, 2014 Town Council meeting

In this meeting, a coincidence of events created tense discussions:

  • A member of the Cook family spoke during Citizens Comments complaining about the length of time for the process.
  • The Planning Dept had a scheduled update on what they do. During the Q and A the tensions were raised.
  • The Citizens Committee also had a brief update and acknowledged (among other things) they were looking to change the name from the Citizens Committee

From the official meeting notes:
►Citizens’ Committee
Lawrence Benedetto, Will be back in front of Council in July. Committee has housekeeping to do. They would like 15 – 20 minutes. They would like to change the name of their committee. The current name implies that their mission involves all of the citizens of Franklin where their actual mission is narrower encompassing quality development, aesthetically pleasing projects, economically beneficial projects. They are frequently asked to get involved in things beyond their purview. They are thinking if they should remain a committee of the Council or be a stand alone committee. They would like to add Associate Members to compensate for traveling members.
The full set of meeting notes from the Town of Franklin archive

Video of the meeting can be viewed at

My notes from the meeting June 18, 2014

November 5, 2014 Town Council meeting

My notes summarizes the meeting as follows:
"The math is elementary. Take 3 from 8 and you are left with 5. And when you are the Town Council that needs 6 votes to ensure a 2/3 requirement, you are left with a real problem. 
Such was the situation that occurred at Wednesday's meeting for one key vote on the Cook's Farm project. 
The Council currently has only 8 members due to the resignation of Glenn Jones. The Special Election to vote in the new councilor occurs on Dec 16th. Three councilors recused themselves from the discussion and vote creating this situation. The councilors recused were Padula, Mercer and Bissanti. 
In the meantime, the Cook's Farm project is on hold waiting to get the final permits issued so they can begin work. After verification of the requirements for the Planning Board, Attorney Mark Cerel determined that the one vote the Council was able to make was sufficient to allow the Planning Board to issue their approval."
My notes

The official meeting notes

The meeting video replay


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. 

Part 1

Part 2

Cook's Farm being built as the first Residential VII development on RT 140

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