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Marijuana Workshop for Municipal Leaders

Local municipal leaders need to prepare themselves to have an opinion on the upcoming legalization ballot question. Join the Communities That Care Coalition and Greenfield Health Department for a 5/19 workshop on the shifting landscape of marijuana in Franklin County/North Quabbin, and an update on what we know now about the drug and its effects on developing brains.

Click here for more information on the workshop.

RSVP for the workshop by clicking here.

 

New MA Climate Change Report

Click here to review UMass’ new Climate Change Report, filled with great data and charts to help you think about the future of our community.

Traffic Count Season is Here!

Transportation Planning Staff are gearing up for the 2016 Traffic Counting season, getting supplies and requests in order.  The FRCOG has operated and maintained traffic counting equipment since 1991, primarily for the purpose of conducting state-requested counts required by our contract with MassDOT. However, fulfilling this obligation has taken only a portion of the traffic counting season, making it possible for us to use the equipment to conduct local traffic counts at no charge to our communities and support ongoing planning studies. The FRCOG operates automatic traffic recorders that have the ability to collect vehicle classification and speed data at most locations. The count season typically runs from May and October. Traffic count requests can be made in writing (mail, fax or email) to Laurie Scarbrough, Transportation Planning Engineer at lscarbrough@frcog.org.

FRCOG FY17 Budget

In January the FRCOG Council endorsed the FRCOG’s FY2017 budget.  Budget highlights budget are:

  • 6% increase to health insurance, as voted by the Hampshire Insurance Trust.
  • OPEB payment of $150,000.
  • 2% Increase to staff wages.
  • Using new revenues and with no financial impact to towns, staffing in the Finance Department increased to include a part-time Grant Fiscal Manager.
  • Minor increases to audit costs, staff training and development, and special project costs.
  • Capital expense of $11,000 to purchase a new server and associated software and equipment.

This results in a small increase to the Regional Services Assessment of 1.7%.  There is also very little change to assessments for participation in the Municipal Service Programs:  Cooperative Purchasing, Cooperative Public Health Service, Town Accounting, and the Franklin County Cooperative Inspection Program.

View the Budget and/or the Budget Development Workbook, with detailed and transparent information about the FRCOG’s finances.  FRCOG staff are always available to meet with Select Boards and/or Finance Committees and attend Town Meeting to explain the FRCOG budget.  Please contact lindad@frcog.org with questions or if you would like us to attend any of your meetings.

 

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

 

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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 .

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: http://www.deerfieldma.us/Pages/DeerfieldMA_News/0211CB28-000F8513

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.

Multi-Hazard Mitigation Planning

The Towns of Leyden, Rowe, and Wendell are currently developing Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plans with assistance from the FRCOG Planning Department through a grant from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The purpose of a Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan is to identify natural and other hazards that may impact the community, such as floods, winter storms, and spills of hazardous substances; conduct a risk assessment to identify infrastructure at the highest risk for being damaged by hazards; inventory and assess current Town hazard mitigation policies, programs, and regulations; and identify action steps to prevent damage to property and loss of life. Towns with plans approved by FEMA and MEMA are eligible for state and federal grant monies to fund pre- and post-disaster mitigation projects to reduce the impact of future natural and man-made disasters. The FRCOG has assisted all 26 Franklin County towns with developing a plan. For information on available hazard mitigation grants see http://www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/mema/hazard-mitigation/grants/ or contact Kimberly Noake MacPhee at kmacphee@frcog.org .

flood rainville photo

Property damage, such as this which occurred as a result of Tropical Storm Irene, is one of many topic explored during hazard mitigation planning.