Friday, October 25, 2019

Franklin Candidate Interview: Andrew Bissanti

I sat with Andrew Bissanti recently to discuss the following questions regarding his candidacy for the Franklin Town Council.

Some of you will recognize the questions as these were collected from the survey we shared in August. While many submitted questions were similar, I tried to select 6 for each Town Council and School Committee candidate that would help to present them to you all, my fellow voters.

As I have shared in prior years, the candidates do get to review the output before it is published but I retain final editing rights. Interviews with candidates are not an exercise I take lightly; it matters greatly to our community to get accurate information from our candidates to enable voters to make an informed decision to run our government.

For the following FM presents the question. AB represents Andrew's response.

FM = There are and have been many opportunities to volunteer with community groups in Franklin. Have you taken advantage of any of these? Which ones, and why did you choose that/those?

AB = I've been involved with the Franklin Downtown Partnership. I enjoy Fishing and Working our Monthly Pancake Breakfasts you see on Facebook at the Franklin Rod and Gun Club and I am a member of the Franklin Elks. My two grandchildren live with me now, and their activities have kept me busy too, it's like Yogi Berra said; "it's déjà vu all over again.”
FM = Where do you get your news about Franklin?

AB = This is my first year back on Facebook, I do jump in on All About Franklin. I read
about six newspapers online Daily. I get some news info via word of mouth and friends
on the local boards and departments. I'm very involved in the town. I have a network of
friends we basically share a lot of what we know and hear. Communication is important.
FM = For all those running for Town Council: We are in a constant water shortage. We are adding to our population and increasing out need for water. Given that all those who live in Franklin draw their water from the same aquifer, do you support a ban on using water for what I will call cosmetic use (lawn watering) during water shortages, even for those with a private well? If not, why not, considering that those with private wells are still dangerously affecting our water level for uses other than vanity? Or put simply: Do you support the private use of wells for lawn irrigation at times when the town's aquifer is dangerously low for use by the community for essential use in homes and fire prevention?

AB = During the Harvest Festival, I was approached by a few residents. A lot of people
doing their homework on this, and they know that it's not a supply problem, they address it as a distribution problem. When I was on the council, I actually called in a hydrologists. I also called in a consultant that the town had actually worked with at one time. He explained the problem. We discussed his calculations, Brutus Cantoreggi and his staff met with us. He explained the problem is like a straw in a full glass. If you only have one straw in the glass only one person will get a drink of water. And that's basically the problem. Laurie (Ruszala) came to the meeting and she had suggested that the private wells should also adhere to the water ban. That was discussed at a public meeting. Although it was not well received initially, it probably could be further discussed until we get repairs further under way on our well heads. 

Candidly, although I have an irrigation system in my yard, off a private well, I don't use it. The system needs tremendous water pressure for all those heads to pop out. Sprinkling can be spotty, and my lawn stays green most of the season without it. I would have no problem for extending the water ban to the private wells.  However, I get that owners with private wells and expensive irrigation systems may want to water their lawns by right. I think, if I got back on the council, first thing I'd want to do is sit down with the DPW and just get the whole big picture story. You know what I mean? Because I'm just seeing bits and pieces. I just read the other day on Facebook; this lady was saying; "my water is red." What's going on?
FM = What degree of development do you feel is appropriate for Franklin, and how would you balance the need for affordable housing, with the need to avoid congestion?

AB = I hate to sound like a broken record, but my views on development changed
dramatically. And it's not a matter of a pro-growth or no growth. But balance, overall, I just think that we cannot sustain the typical one acre, three or four thousand square foot, four bedroom house in Franklin. The million dollar home does not sustain our tax rates. Fourteen dollars and sixty cent tax rate. So do the math. That's like fifteen thousand dollars in tax revenue. Guess what? That doesn't even put one child through school. Not to mention the other three bedrooms. Where are those kids going to go? I mean, we have to think about smart growth, smaller homes, less bedrooms, private roads, inclusionary affordability, and inclusionary open space.

This kind of building and zoning creates balance, if you want to build in Franklin, you've got to give back. Give us some open space, and give us some affordable housing. I'm not saying give away the funds, but make three or four of those houses affordable. So that our kids and my kids can move to Franklin. Give us some open space. Because guess what? You don't have to use every inch of that land. You're still going to make money. It's being done in other parts of the country. So inclusionary open space, inclusionary affordability. It's not the end of the world.

Can we talk about water, sewer moratoriums? I've talked to this with other councils. I think the last time we did try something like that, the town got sued. We may have to talk with the town attorney and see what we can do. Balance is the answer. Through good zoning. We are safely way over our 10% limit for 40Bs we are at like 12% so no worries there. We won't be seeing anymore forced on the town for some time.
FM = The Town Administrator has suggested that Franklin needs to pass an override measure. What actions will you take to support the passage of this measure?

AB = I think ultimately what's going to happen is the council is going to push the override to a ballot and let the people decide. That seems to be rhetoric from the existing council right now. I think it's only fair that way. I want to make a rational decision. How it's going to affect dollars, and the people of Franklin. Whatever the greater good is for Franklin. I don't want to see services to the town and infrastructure suffer .Careful study and examination and reporting will and is being conducted and we will have more facts soon.
FM = What do you say to the voter who asks: Why should I vote for you?

AB = Well, I spent six years on the Town Council. I bring experience. I possess a skill set and knowledge of zoning and development which is needed on any council. We all had a certain synergy on the council. The council would often turn to me on zoning questions. We would also work together on numerous other. We had a great synergy working together on various issues.

I liked my rapport with the Fire Department, and the DPW. The nature of my job is out there in the streets. I'm always talking to people. I have good communication skills with people. I try to get along with everybody. I had a good rapport with the administration. I would always be upstairs finding out what's going on. I do bring that line of communication to the council. I would also talk to my Council brothers and sisters all the time. We always enjoyed a good relationship with the School Committee. I look forward to working together with the dynamics we enjoyed. I headed up the Land Use Committee for the Master Plan.

I have many new visions for a new council going forward, including addressing open space, the water ban and continued vigilance of the opioid crisis. As a father and a grandfather, raising two grandchildren, I have a continued interest in our schools and their issues. I’d appreciate your vote on November 5.

Franklin Candidate Interview: Andrew Bissanti
Franklin Candidate Interview: Andrew Bissanti
Find the election and candidate information gathered in one place on the Election Collection 

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