In response to COVID-19, FRCOG offices are closed. Staff are working remotely. Email is likely the most efficient way to reach us. You can find our contact information on the Staff page under the About link below.

Building, plumbing and wiring inspectors are responding to emergencies only.

All meetings, workshops and forums are cancelled or have been changed to a call-in or video format.  Please look for emails from FRCOG staff about specific meetings or on our calendar at the Meetings and Events link below.

Archive | Land Use Planning and Zoning

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**COVID-19 Updates**

For the data dashboard  from the Franklin County MACC, click here

For the latest situation reports from the MA COVID Command Center, click here.

For the COG’s COVID Municipal Resources Page click here.

For the Region 1 Health and Medical Coordinating Coalition, click here.

To read the FRCOG’s Municipal Leader COVID-19 updates:

Registration is now open for MHP’s Western MA Housing Conference

Registration is now open for the Massachusetts Housing Partnership’s Western MA Housing Conference, Thursday, April 16, 2020 at the Hadley Farms Meeting House, 41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035.

Geared towards officials, volunteers and employees, this one-day conference will address housing challenges facing small towns and rural communities in Central and Western Massachusetts.

Topics & agenda:

  • Findings from the Rural Policy Plan
  • Using data to support your housing needs
  • Housing rehabilitation
  • Affordable home-ownership opportunities
  • Distressed and abandoned properties
  • Senior housing
  • Community outreach and coalition building

A full agenda will be made available by the end of February.

Registration details:

Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Cost to attend is $30 for municipal planners/volunteers/non-profit organizations and $50 for for-profit organizations.

All training materials will be provided electronically before the event.

Click Here to Register

Contact Katie Bosse at kbosse@mhp.net or 857-317-8517 for more information about this or any other MHP-sponsored events.

Buckland Green Streets Project Information

Buckland Green Streets is a project initiated by the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) with funding from a MassDEP 604b grant to assess the potential for Green Infrastructure (GI) stormwater management in Shelburne Falls on the Buckland side.  The goals of the project are to improve water quality in the Deerfield River, to help the village and surrounding watershed become more resilient to increasingly frequent and intense precipitation, and to mitigate the flood hazards resulting from heavy rain events. FRCOG staff worked with the Town Highway and Wastewater Superintendents to develop a stormwater management concept for Crittenden Hill Road where GI can be implemented in conjunction with planned municipal road work currently needed to repair the road and address erosion hazards that threaten residential properties and steep slopes flanking the road.  The concept proposes to retrofit and utilize an abandoned water tank and implement a new bioretention basin to capture and clean large volumes of stormwater before it enters the storm sewer and outlets to the Deerfield River. This concept design will be developed to 25% with cost estimates by a Professional Engineer.  FRCOG will also develop a guide for the Town to continue to integrate GI in its future transportation projects, including an assessment method and links to design and funding sources that will serve as a resource for other towns.

For more information please check out the presentation below, or contact Helena Farrell, Land Use and Natural Resources Planner, at HFarrell@frcog.org or 413-774-3167 ext. 134.

Buckland Green Streets Presentation

River Corridor Toolkit Released

Over the last 10 years, FRCOG has been using the science of Fluvial Geomorphology to develop and pilot cost-effective, sustainable river and watershed assessment, restoration and management techniques in the Franklin County portion of the Deerfield River Watershed.  Historic land clearance and the legacy of channel modification are two of the main stressors still affecting the rivers and streams in this watershed. Continued development and encroachments in the river corridor, along with the more frequent and intense rain events due to climate change, also stress these unstable river systems.

In 2017, FRCOG was awarded a $155,000 s.319 grant from MassDEP to develop a river corridor mapping protocol and a River Corridor Management Toolkit, which includes two innovative tools: a Model River Corridor Protection Overlay Zoning District Bylaw and a draft River Corridor Easement Restriction.

The Toolkit can be used by state agency staff, communities and landowners in the Deerfield River Watershed and across the Commonwealth who are interested in river restoration and protection, climate resilient land use, and the reduction of threats to critical infrastructure caused by increasingly severe and frequent flood events.  More Information:  Kimberly Noake MacPhee at kmacphee@frcog.org or ext. 130.

River Corridor Toolkit_Part_1

River Corridor Toolkit_Part_2

River Corridor Toolkit_Part_3

 

FRCOG is hiring!

Would you or someone you know like to join our team?

Please check out the positions available here by visiting our Employment Page!

 

Congratulations to Charlemont, Colrain, and Heath on becoming designated Green Communities!

Congratulations to Charlemont, Colrain, and Heath on becoming designated Green Communities! The three towns were recognized by State officials at a ceremony in Colrain on May 2. See the official press release from the Department of Energy Resources below. FRCOG staff provided technical assistance to the three towns with their designation efforts. To date, 24 of the 26 towns in Franklin County are Green Communities, with a total of over $5.4 million in grant funds awarded to Franklin County Towns through the program.

Baker-Polito Administration Presents Green Communities Designation Award to Western Massachusetts Municipalities
Seven Communities Receive $927,786 for Energy Efficiency Projects

WESTHAMPTON –– The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded Green Communities designation grants totaling $927,786 to Charlemont, Colrain, Heath, Sandisfield, Westhampton, Wilbraham and Worthington. The awards will fund energy efficiency projects and were presented by Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson during ceremonies in Western Massachusetts.

In December of last year, 30 communities across Massachusetts were designated by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) as Green Communities, committing to an ambitious renewable energy agenda to reduce energy consumption and emissions. With 240 of the Commonwealth’s municipalities having earned their Green Communities designation, 78 percent of residents now live in a Green Community. Since the program began in 2010, DOER’s Green Communities division has awarded over $100 million in grant funding to the Commonwealth’s cities and towns through designation and competitive grant rounds.

“We are proud to support the Green Communities program and the work it allows state and local governments to do in order to protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through responsible clean energy policies,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Cities and towns that participate in the Green Communities program have access to additional resources that help facilitate investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects while reducing energy costs and carbon footprints.”

“These towns are making tremendous strides to reduce energy consumption and save money and this grant funding is another step we are taking to provide cities and towns across the Commonwealth with the tools they need to continue to move Massachusetts forward as a leader in energy efficiency,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

Under the Green Communities Act, cities and towns must meet five criteria to be designated a Green Community and receive funding, including reducing municipal energy consumption by 20 percent over five years. The 30 newly designated Green Communities have committed to reduce their energy consumption by 293,936 MMBTUs in five years, energy use equivalent to heating and powering 2,281 homes, and greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction of 21,380 metric tons equivalent to taking 4,501 cars off the roads.

“Close collaboration between communities and the Commonwealth is a critical component of efforts to create a cleaner energy future by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “With today’s designation, the Green Communities program continues to prove an effective tool in collaborating with our municipal partners to reduce energy costs, consumption and emissions.”

“The Green Communities program is an important partnership with cities and towns to help them find clean energy solutions that reduce long-term energy costs and strengthen local economies,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson. “These grants represent another milestone for both the communities and the Commonwealth as we continue to collaborate to meet our shared energy goals.”

DOER awarded funding for projects in these newly designated Green Communities:

Municipality                Award

Charlemont                 $129,074

Colrain                         $129,880

Heath                          $129,582

Sandisfield                   $128,805

Westhampton             $129,135

Wilbraham                  $152,815

Worthington               $128,495

Under the Green Communities Act, DOER’s Green Communities Designation and Grant Program can provide up to $20 million annually to qualified cities and towns.  The goal of the Designation Grant Program is support communities’ investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that further the clean energy goals determined by the designated communities.  Initial Designation Grants are based on a $125,000 base for each designated Green Community, plus additional amounts tied to per capita income and population, and for municipalities that provide as-of-right siting for renewable energy generation.

“I’m thrilled that Charlemont, Heath, Sandisfield, Westhampton and Worthington are now designated as Green Communities,” said State Senator Adam G. Hinds (D- Pittsfield). “Taking this step to improve collective efforts to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy is good news for the entire Commonwealth.”

“I am pleased to see Charlemont, Colrain, and Heath be recognized for their efforts to promote green, renewable energy and mitigate the effects of climate change,” said State Representative Paul Mark (D-Peru). “Increasingly, we understand that our future relies on innovative solutions that foster energy efficiency and a diversified portfolio of renewables. The Green Communities designation helps local municipalities lead the charge towards much needed sustainable solutions and has my full support. Congratulations to these three communities on their efforts.”

Funding for these grants is available through proceeds from the Renewable Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) as well as Alternative Compliance Payments (ACP) paid by retail electric suppliers that do not meet their Renewable Portfolio Standard compliance obligations through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates.

A full list of projects funded by the Green Communities program can be found here.

Erving Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Plan is Available for Review and Comment

The Town of Erving’s draft Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Resiliency Plan is available for public review and comment. Click here to read the MVP Plan and/or attend the Erving MVP public meeting, held in conjunction with the Erving Select Board meeting on March 25th at 6:35 pm at Erving Town Hall.  Public comments will be accepted during the meeting as well as during a public comment period from March 18th through April 1st. You may hand in your comments at the public meeting or submit them online at www.erving-ma.gov/emergency-management/pages/municipal-vulnerability-preparedness.

You may also mail comments to:

Franklin Regional Council of Governments
12 Olive Street, Suite 2
Greenfield, MA 01301
Attention: Kimberly Noake MacPhee

A Framework for Resilience: Responding to Climate Change in the Deerfield River Watershed report just released

A Framework for Resilience is the first watershed-based climate change resiliency plan in the Commonwealth.  The Deerfield River Watershed includes all or a portion of fourteen Franklin County towns: Ashfield, Buckland, Bernardston, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Greenfield, Hawley, Heath, Leyden, Monroe, Rowe and Shelburne.    A watershed can provide a framework for understanding the interconnectedness of natural systems and the built environment as well as how climate change stressors can affect several towns simultaneously.  FRCOG’s report provides the 14 towns of the Deerfield River Watershed with information about how the climate change stressors – Changes in Precipitation, Rising Temperatures and Extreme Weather – will likely impact three important sectors – Natural Resources & Habitat, Human Health & Welfare, and Local Economy & Infrastructure.  The recommendations described in FRCOG’s Plan were designed to be:

  • Achievable (within the power of towns and individuals to implement);
  • Address multiple climate stressors and benefit multiple sectors; and
  • Build resiliency at multiple scales (property, town, and watershed).

The reality of private land holdings and fourteen town boundaries in the Deerfield River Watershed require watershed-scale approaches to climate resiliency.  Working in partnership with their watershed neighbors, towns can build a coalition of resilience that improves not only the climate resiliency of each watershed town, but over time, creates a more resilient Deerfield River Watershed.  FRCOG will be reaching out to stakeholders and convening a Resilient Deerfield River Watershed (Resilient DRW) coalition to work across town boundaries to build resiliency at the watershed scale. This project was completed with grant funding received from the Baker-Polito administration’s FY17 Community Compact Program’s Efficiency & Regionalization Grant Program. For further information contact Kimberly Noake MacPhee at kmacphee@frcog.org.

Framework for Resilience in the Deerfield River Watershed

 

Reports of High Risk Stream Crossings in the Deerfield River Watershed are now available.

Reports of High Risk Stream Crossings in the Deerfield River Watershed are now available. The information in the reports and maps is from a pilot project completed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMass) that assessed the vulnerability of road-stream crossings to precipitation events. FRCOG planning staff compiled this information for each Franklin County town within the watershed as part of the FY18 Franklin Region Unified Planning Work Program. The purpose of the maps and reports are to help municipal officials and public works staff prioritize bridge and culvert upgrades in their town. The reports also provide information on how to make road-stream upgrades more resilient to current and projected precipitation conditions, and lists potential funding sources for upgrading crossings. The town reports are available here.

Erving Residents Invited to Attend Climate Resiliency Planning Workshop

The Town of Erving was recently awarded a $20,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s new Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program to complete a climate change vulnerability assessment, develop resiliency strategies, and update the town’s FEMA-approved Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan. The town will be working with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) on this project.  Communities that complete the MVP designation planning process become certified as an MVP community and are eligible for MVP Action grant funding to implement priority projects.

Erving and FRCOG are hosting a Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Community Resilience Building Workshop to help town staff, volunteers, residents, and businesses define top local natural and climate-related hazards of concern, identify existing and future strengths and vulnerabilities, and identify and prioritize actions and projects the Town can implement to increase climate change resilience.

The MVP Workshop will be held on Wednesday, October 3rd from 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Erving Senior & Community Center, located at 1 Care Drive in Erving.  Residents, business owners, and stakeholders are invited to attend.  Refreshments and lunch will be provided.  Please RSVP to Bryan Smith, Erving Administrative Coordinator at admin@erving-ma.org by September 26th.

For more information regarding the MVP planning process contact: Kimberly Noake MacPhee, Land Use & Natural Resources Program Manager, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, kmacphee@frcog.org or 413-774-3167 x130.

Erving MVP Meeting Flyer 100318