Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Build-Out & Infrastructure Analysis from MAPC Franklin For All Executive Summary

An extract from the Build-Out & Infrastructure Analysis from MAPC Franklin For All Executive Summary follows: (In the full report, this can be found on pages 15-17. The Summary Memo #3 can be found on page 60)

When proposing recommendations that can lead to increased density in an area, it is important to assess the potential impacts from new development and the municipality’s ability to serve that new development. A “build-out analysis” is a tool used in urban planning to estimate the amount and location of future growth. This analysis provides a projection of the maximum number of new housing units and other nonresidential square footage that could result if each parcel were to be redeveloped according to proposed zoning regulations. From there, potential impacts can be estimated such as increased population, parking needs, traffic, demand on municipal services, and more. In general, a build-out analysis provides an overestimation of growth and associated impacts with the understanding that many parcels in a given area will not be redeveloped for any number of reasons.

The new Multi-Family Zoning Requirement for MBTA Communities, also known as the new Section 3A of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40A (“Section 3A”), requires communities that are served by the MBTA to have at least one zoning district of a “reasonable size” located within a half-mile of an MBTA station where multifamily housing is permitted “as of right” at a minimum gross density of 15 units per acre. To comply with the “reasonable size” requirement in Section 3A, these districts must be at least 50 acres total with a minimum of 25 contiguous acres. Under the regulations, Franklin will also need to prove to DHCDw that it has multifamily district with a unit capacity—the number of housing units that can be developed as of right in the district— equal to or greater than 1,883 units.

Currently, Franklin does not have a district of reasonable size that complies with all the requirements of Section 3A. The Downtown Commercial District does allow multifamily housing in accordance with Section 3A, but that district is less than the required 50 acres (40.2 acres). If it fails to comply with Section 3A, Franklin will no longer be eligible for state funding from the Housing Choice Initiative, the Local Capital Projects Fund, the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, and potentially other grant sources.

MAPC’s Data Services Department conducted an analysis to calculate total build-out units in the Franklin Center study area based on the Town’s current zoning and the adoption of new zoning regulations that comply with Section 3A. This analysis assumes the adoption of a Chapter 40R Smart Growth Overlay District (described in detail in the Recommendations section) that includes properties within the Downtown Commercial (DC), Commercial I (CI), and General Residential V (GRV) Districts.

With a total build-out of 3,352 housing units spread out across 174.29 acres, the district-wide gross density would come out to 19.23 units/acre and thus comply with Section 3A. MAPC compared the results of the build-out analysis with existing housing units in the CI, DCD, and GRV Districts to calculate net unit yield.

Build-Out & Infrastructure Analysis from MAPC Franklin For All Executive Summary
Build-Out & Infrastructure Analysis from MAPC Franklin For All Executive Summary

Based on recent studies, local data, site visits, and interviews with Town staff, MAPC has assessed infrastructure in the Franklin Center study area to determine to what extent existing infrastructure may be a barrier to new development and redevelopment.

DPW has no concerns about capacity issues in Franklin’s water and sewer systems, and they think that a very substantial amount of development would need to happen in a very short period of time in order for this to be a concern. Both Franklin’s wastewater and water supply systems could handle another 20% of their total capacity before it becomes a concern. DPW notes that the additional 20% does not mean 20% more units or more people, as newer systems are going to be more efficient in water usage and drainage.

If we translate 2,510 net units under the total build-out in the previous section to population, we could expect a maximum of 6,526 new residents given the average household size in Franklin of 2.6. This would be an increase Franklin’s population by a maximum of 17.8%, from 36,745 to 43,271 people. Based on these findings and the fact that the build-out is an overestimation, MAPC does not believe that the increase in population as a result of Franklin For All’s proposed zoning changes will result in capacity concerns for the Town’s water and sewer supplies.

The Charles River Pollution Control District operates the treatment facility that supports the Town’s sewer system. As part of the agreement for Franklin to be in the Charles River Pollution Control District, the State mandates that people may only water their lawns on trash day. This restriction is announced by the Town each year and runs from May to September. Because of this policy, residents have a false perception that the Town’s water supply is stressed and they blame new development for these complaints.

As the Town of Franklin considers new zoning in and around its downtown center, ensuring the provision of adequate transportation infrastructure and multimodal walking, biking, and transit connectivity will be critical to accommodate new growth and development. Under Section 3A, the Town must create a new multifamily zoning district, 50% of which must be located within half a mile of a commuter rail station. With an MBTA station in the heart of its pedestrian-friendly downtown, Franklin is well-positioned to create new transit- oriented housing and commercial opportunities for residents and visitors. However, targeted infrastructure improvements and broader transportation policy changes will be necessary to ensure that the Town maximizes the potential benefits it can realize under Section 3A.

Summary Memo #3 contains transportation observations and recommendations for infrastructure improvements at specific locations in Franklin Center, as well as more general transportation observations and recommendations that will enable the Town of Franklin to help meet projections for future growth.

The full report from MAPC on the Franklin For All project can be found

The Build-out and Infrastructure Analysis in PDF format ->

Summary Memo #3 in PDF format ->

Build-Out & Infrastructure Analysis from MAPC Franklin For All Executive Summary
Build-Out & Infrastructure Analysis from MAPC Franklin For All Executive Summary

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