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Do you have unwanted or out-of-date drugs in your home?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


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

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 or contact Alyssa Larose at .

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:

Procurement in Emergencies

While this winter has been very mild, the season always brings with it the increased possibility of the need for emergency repairs.  Here is a very short guide to handling some emergency issues that involve hiring contractors or equipment that will cost more than $10,000.

*In an emergency, you may only do what is necessary to temporarily repair and restore in order to preserve health and safety of persons or property.

*If you need to procure in an emergency, contact the Division of Capital Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) at or FAX 617-727-5363 to get permission to waive bidding

*If you need Emergency Heavy Equipment, the FRCOG has a standing contract, the details are at  under Bid Awards and Rental Equipment for a complete list and pricing.

* Remember that even small emergency building repair and public works projects require the payment of prevailing wage unless you hire an owner/operator. We recommend you request a new set of prevailing wages to have on hand for unforeseen emergencies each year at

Contact Andrea Woods, Chief Procurement Officer for help with waivers, emergency procurements, prevailing wage requests or locating resources at or 413-774-3167 x104.

What is Mass in Motion?

Mass in Motion is a statewide movement that promotes opportunities for healthy eating and active living in the places people live, learn, work and play. Franklin County’s Mass in Motion initiative is part of the Communities That Care Coalition, which is co-hosted by the Partnership for Youth, a program of the FRCOG. A newly-formed Steering Committee held its first meeting November 9th and will meet quarterly. It will track progress on our nutrition and physical activity outcomes, and strategies associated with making healthy choices easier in our region. The Steering Committee is still welcoming new members, especially people who represent smaller towns. If you are interested, please contact Rachel Stoler at

As part of the expanded Mass in Motion initiative, the FRCOG offered a pilot pedestrian “Wayfinding” project in one town in Franklin County, and the Steering Committee awarded the project to the Town of Montague. The Town will receive assistance in the form of mapping and signage for a public walking route to encourage walking as both exercise and a way to get to places of interest and importance. Signs will make the walking route easier to navigate, and will identify destinations and delineate the time it takes to walk to each location. Destinations may include community landmarks, downtown centers, transit stations/stops, institutions, healthy markets, community centers, and other places of interest Montague residents interested in the project can contact Walter Ramsay, Town Planner at


Deerfield Industrial Park Economic Development Plan Updated

DEDIC EDP_DFLD Industrial Park photo_1-19-16

The vision for the Deerfield Industrial Park includes a mix of industrial and commercial uses.

The Deerfield Economic Development Industrial Corporation (DEDIC) was established in 1977 to implement industrial activities in the Deerfield Industrial Park according to an Economic Development Plan (EDP). Since the establishment of the Park, the industrial and manufacturing sectors of the economy have been substantially altered by the increased effects of globalization and more efficient technologies. While manufacturing remains a prominent economic driver in Franklin County, the nature of the industry and the economy have changed in the ensuing four decades since the publication of the first DEDIC EDP. In 2015, the FRCOG Planning Department worked with DEDIC to develop a revised EDP for the Park that reflects an updated vision of how industrial activities have changed in the 21st century, envisioning a more contemporary mix of industrial and commercial uses.

The revised EDP and associated Zoning Bylaw amendments to allow for expanded commercial uses in the Industrial Park were approved by Deerfield Annual Town Meeting on April 27, 2015. A copy of the EDP can be found on the Deerfield Town Website at:

DEDIC and the Town of Deerfield are currently working with the Town’s legislative representatives to seek the enactment of Special Legislation codifying DEDIC’s expanded authority under M.G.L. Chapter 121C. A new set of Industrial Park Rules and Regulations is also being developed that are more in alignment with the current needs of the Park and the community’s economic development goals.