Archive | February, 2016

Natural Disasters Don’t Have to Be a Disaster for You

Between 2000 and 2011, more than 2.7 billion people were affected by disasters. Natural hazards can’t be prevented but we can  prevent them from becoming a disaster for us.  Be Prepared!

Drug Take Back Box Locations

Do you have unwanted or out-of-date drugs in your home? Get them out of the medicine cabinet, away from children and potential abusers, and out of the environment. Thanks to Northwestern District Attorney Dave Sullivan and local police departments, you can safely and anonymously drop them off in a secure MedReturn Box, located at one of 18 local police stations, and they will be disposed of in an environmentally sound way. Prescription and non-prescription drugs, vitamins and veterinary meds are accepted. NO liquids, syringes, IV equipment or chemotherapy drugs, please.

click here for drug take back box locations

for more on DA Sullivan’s Drug Take Back program click here

Promoting Farm to Institution Relationships

FRCOG staff are working with the Franklin County Food Council and Greater Quabbin Food Alliance to increase the amount of local food used by institutional food services (schools and colleges, nursing homes, the jail, the hospital, etc.). This group held a training on USDA local food procurement, targeting K-12 school food service directors, business managers, local organizations and procurement staff in November. Food services representatives from all Franklin County school districts attended. The training included presentations by local and regional resource providers including MA Farm to School, Franklin County CDC, CISA, Just Roots, Franklin County Solid Waste District, Apex Farm, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust and the MA Public Health Association. They plan to organize another gathering or training in the Spring. For more information contact Rachel Stoler rstoler@frcog.org

 

Local Food training 049 Local Food training 014 Local Food training 037

FRCOG E-Newsletter Debuts

Click here to read our Winter Newsletter or subscribe to future issues.

Sunderland Housing Plan Updated

The Town of Sunderland, with assistance from the FRCOG, recently completed an update to the Sunderland Housing Plan. The plan was submitted to the Department of Housing and Community Development in December for approval as the Town’s Housing Production Plan (HPP). An HPP identifies the housing needs of a community and the strategies it will use to facilitate the development of affordable housing, and provides information on population trends, existing types of housing, and current development conditions in town. On a broader level, the plan seeks to address questions that are important to the future of Sunderland: Will long-time residents be able to stay in town as they age? Will children who grew up in town be able to return to Sunderland to raise a family? Will people who are employed in Sunderland be able to afford to live in town?

 

Conceptual design for affordable senior housing in Sunderland center. Photo credit: Berkshire Design Group.

A conceptual design for affordable senior housing in Sunderland center, a top priority for the town. Photo credit: Berkshire Design Group.

Massachusetts’ Comprehensive Permit Act, or Chapter 40B, sets a goal of increasing the amount of long-term affordable housing to 10% of the housing stock in each community. In municipalities that have not met this goal, developers of affordable housing can take advantage of a streamlined permitting process that provides exceptions to local zoning requirements. If a town has an approved Housing Production Plan and is making demonstrable progress towards creating affordable housing, it may have more control over comprehensive permit applications. Sunderland is already making progress on implementing its plan through pursuing the development of affordable senior housing on Town-owned land in the village center. For more information on Housing Production Plans, see http://www.mass.gov/hed/community/40b-plan/housing-production-plan.html or contact Alyssa Larose at alarose@frcog.org .

Public Meetings for draft Transportation Planning Organization Public Participation Plan on March 9, 2016

The Franklin County Transportation Planning Organization (FCTPO) has released a draft Public Participation Plan.  There will be two public meetings on Wednesday, March 9 at the JWO Transit Center to provide opportunities for comment.   The first meeting will be from 12:00-1:00pm and the second meeting will be from 5:00-6:00pm.  Both meetings will be held in the First Floor Meeting Room at 12 Olive Street, Greenfield, MA.  In case of snow or hazardous weather, a snow date for the meetings will be held on March 16 at the same times, but upstairs in the FRCOG Library.  Please check www.frcog.org or call (413)774-3167 ext. 153 to find out about weather cancellations.  If you are unable to attend the meetings, comments can be sent to Megan Rhodes by email at mrhodes@frcog.org or by mail at 12 Olive Street, Suite 2, Greenfield MA 01301 until March 23, 2016.

Draft FCTPO Public Participation Plan 1-29-16

 

Western Millers River Watershed LID Project

Denise Dwelley of the Deerfield Academy Grounds Department discusses the green roof at the Koch Center for Science, Math, & Technology with participants on the Franklin County LID Field Trip.

Denise Dwelley of the Deerfield Academy Grounds Department discusses the green roof at the Koch Center for Science, Math, & Technology with participants on the Franklin County LID Field Trip.

Stormwater runoff is the #1 cause of water pollution in Massachusetts and the rest of New England. In this era of increasingly extreme weather events, rainfall patterns are becoming more intense. For local towns in Franklin County, that means more rainfall and more stormwater running off of hard surfaces like roads, roofs and parking lots.  Stormwater runoff picks up animal waste, oil and antifreeze, salt and sand, and many other substances and contaminants that can pollute local rivers, streams, lakes and ponds.  The Western Millers River Watershed Low Impact Development (LID) Project has provided resources to assist towns in the Western Millers River Watershed in protecting their local waters from stormwater runoff and flooding.

A series of three workshops and a field trip showcasing LID installations in Franklin County were presented by the FRCOG and the Millers River Watershed Council (MRWC) in 2015 under an EPA-funded Section 319 grant administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). The three workshops were:

  1. Introduction to Stormwater Management in the Western Millers River Watershed
  2. LID Technologies and Best Management Practices and Franklin County LID Field Trip
  3. Incorporating Low Impact Development (LID) into Local Bylaws and Public Projects

FRCOG and MRWC staff also prepared the following white papers for use by local officials:

  1. Incorporating Low Impact Development (LID) into Local Bylaws
  2. Integrating Green Infrastructure into Public Projects
  3. Economic Benefits of Low Impact Development (LID) Projects for Stormwater Management: Highlights from Recent Literature

Presentations from the workshops, the Franklin County LID Field Trip Briefing Book, and the white papers can be found on the FRCOG website at: http://frcog.org/publication/view/western-millers-river/.

Franklin County Transportation Planning Organization Public Participation Plan Open for Public Review

The Franklin County Transportation Planning Organization (FCTPO) will open a 45-day public review and comment period for the draft Public Participation Plan.  The comment period will begin on Monday, February 8, 2016 and will end on Wednesday, March 23, 2016.  Please provide any comments to Megan Rhodes by email at mrhodes@frcog.org or by mail at 12 Olive Street, Suite 2, Greenfield MA 01301.

Draft FCTPO Public Participation Plan 1-29-16