This session of the radio show shares the Town Council meeting held in Council Chambers on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. All 9 members of the Council were present in the Council Chambers.
The 121 Grove St 40b proposal
The Franklin, MA Town Council whiffs on an easy layup to bring more housing and "Affordable" housing to Franklin. At the Council meeting on Wednesday, March 15, the Council voted 4-5 to support a "friendly 40b" proposal. The proposal needed 6 votes to pass, it was 4 yes (Frongillo, Sheridan, Hamblen, Mercer) and 5 No (Cormier-Leger, Chandler, Pellegri, Jones, Dellorco).
Why did they blow this 'easy layup'? Ask them to explain, the short summary I have is they misunderstand the ‘friendly 40b process”.
From the ‘friendly 40b’ process memo:
“Because Franklin is above the 10% affordable housing threshold, it can permit so-called "Friendly 40B" projects to build mixed-income housing.
Unlike traditional 40B projects, this allows municipalities to remain in control of most aspects of project design and construction. A "Friendly 40B" project is a project that has local support because of the contribution it can make to the community's need for more diverse housing options, and the contributions the developer agrees to make to local needs (infrastructure, public safety, land protection, etc.).”
Bottomline the proposal will likely go forward as a regular 40b. The developer could have chosen to do so but they chose the ‘friendly route’ and the Council vote nixed that.
1 - the 'friendly 40b' process - one claimed to have been lied to (as to what the ‘friendly 40b’ process was) when this vote was their one chance to have a say in the matter and what they said with the negative vote was "we don't want to work with developers to bring in affordable housing"
2 - they denied the opportunity to continue to work with the developer to iron out some of the issues as it went through the process. Now they have conceded all the issues to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Yes, the ZBA always had the final say, the Council never would, but this was their one chance to ensure they (and the Town departments) had a thoughtful chance to provide input and they failed. What department will willingly work with this developer when the Council has said “No”
3 - the property has been turning in approx. $13K revenue to the Town, the proposal would have generated about $800K. Yes, a $790K increase in revenue for a vote (and they failed). The budget cycle is a challenge to cover the $5.7M deficit, and they kicked away a significant potential increase to Town revenues (No, not this year but beginning is some future year and there after)
4 - the property is zoned industrial and given the topology (a bunch of wetlands, which are still being worked out with the Conservation Commission) wouldn't not actually be used for industrial development. Or it would have in the years prior. Here was a residential use that would increase revenues without additionally burdening services and they failed to pass it. (Future discussion item should be a review of such areas zoned as commercial/industrial where it is ‘known’ to have an issue to prevent their actual use as such. Akin to the lot line clean up underway, let’s review inappropriately zoned plots especially where they are undeveloped)
5 - there is a big difference between "Affordable" (note Capital "A") defined at Federal and State levels and what is actually "affordable" (lowercase "a") . Locally we have no control over that. We do need housing, we do need "Affordable" units and while this would have brought "Affordable" units, the council failed
6 - the persistent error in ‘claiming the Town has insufficient water’ due to the annual DEP permit which requires water conservation measures. Yes, there have also been a few years with real “water bans” but those were the results of the Fisher St pump station fire (July 2019) and the ‘drought status’ issued by the State DEP. Each time, usually every year, when the DPW comes to provide their water update, they do outline how we are well prepared to handle current and future growth. We have enough water yet some folks continue to believe otherwise (Facebook keyboard warriors win again)
The recording runs 3 and 35 minutes. Let’s listen to the Town Council meeting on March 15, 2023.
Details on the proposal from the agenda are found here:
b. Discussion & Project Presentation: 121 Grove Street, a “Friendly 40B” - Fairfield
i. Legislation for Action #9a
1. Staff Memo (https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif6896/f/uploads/8b._1_-_memo_-_121_grove_street_a_friendly_40b2.pdf ) ,
Chapter 40B PowerPoint Presentation (https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif6896/f/uploads/friendly_40b_presentation-pp_only.pdf ) ;
Friendly 40B process (https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif6896/f/uploads/2a._-_friendly_40b_process.pdf )
& State Median Income Qualifications (https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif6896/f/uploads/2b._-_median_income_qualifications.pdf )
2. Proposed 121 Grove Street Application (
& 121 Grove Street Site Plan (https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif6896/f/uploads/2d._-_121_grove_st._site_plan.pdf )
3. Planning Board comment letter (https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif6896/f/uploads/2e._-_planning_board_letter.pdf )
& Conservation Commission comment letter (https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif6896/f/uploads/2f._conservation_commission_letter.pdf )
YouTube Video link -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGx3TPCumWw
My notes on the full meeting are in one PDF file.
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The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana" c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.
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