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Franklin For All to Hold Public Forum March 7th All Invited to Attend In-Person at Town Council Chambers or on Zoom

By J.D. O’Gara
Franklin is comprised of 17 base zoning districts that serve various residential, commercial, and industrial uses. How well are they working to serve residents and foster a vibrant downtown area? A new study underway by the town of Franklin and the MAPC, Franklin For All, is aiming at revamping zoning in the downtown area to “build on Franklin Center’s existing assets and overcome barriers that are preventing the area from fully realizing its potential as a vibrant, mixed-use destination. More people living in a walkable downtown means more spending at local businesses, less car trips and greenhouse gas emissions, and more interactions amongst residents which fosters a strong sense of community.”
Lily Rivera, Marketing and Communications Specialist for Franklin, explains that the Franklin For All project will specifically look at the downtown area.
“The overall concept, focusing on Franklin Center, is rezoning for diverse housing opportunities. If we have a more vibrant town center, we’re going to have a livelier downtown.” Businesses, she says, “want to be where the people are. What changes can we make in zoning bylaws to help expand (economic growth)?”
Franklin for All will continue the work of strengthening a downtown area that has a lot going for it. According to the Franklin For All page (, “Franklin is fortunate to have a compact downtown with an MBTA Commuter Rail Station, a museum, a performing arts theater, Dean College, and a mix of restaurants and retailers. There are also events throughout the year, including the Strawberry Stroll and the Harvest Festival, that draw large crowds to the area. Significant time and resources have been devoted to enhancing the area with a focus on improving vehicular circulation and safety, increasing emergency response time, improving roadway, fostering a pedestrian environment, improving the overall appearance, and stimulating private sector investment.”
Now, Franklin For All, a three-phase project led by MAPC’s Senior Planner Emma Battaglia, seeks to modify any zoning restrictions that may be holding back the community’s vision for Franklin Center. With a growing population, the town’s recent Housing Production Plan identified the need for new and diverse housing types. Although the town has met its affordable housing requirement, it still needs market-rate and affordable housing to accommodate both downsizing seniors, young professionals, families, and the low-income folks within those groups.
With the first phase of the project, a zoning diagnostic, completed, Franklin For All is now engaged in its second phase, community visioning and the development of proposed changes. 
“Four focus groups selected by the town and the MAPC began meeting in January and February,” says Rivera. “They include business and property owners, housing service providers and activists, developers and real estate, and residents who live in downtown area.” Coming up, the entire town is invited to take part in a hybrid forum on Monday, March 7th, at 7 p.m., either in person at Franklin Town Council chambers, or on Zoom. To register, visit .
The third phase of the project will focus on rezoning the study area based on findings and recommendations. 
The Department of Planning & Community Development (DPCD) is providing project management and grant management services, as well as providing MAPC with assistance with gathering information and conducting outreach. To fund the project DPCD applied for and received two State planning grants:
• $75,000 grant through the Community One Stop for Growth’s new Community Planning Grant Program; and
• $45,000 grant through the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’
Planning Assistance Grant Program.
Town funds will be utilized as a match for one of the grants, and to provide additional consulting services, including a community survey which was not part of the original scope of work.
You find out more about Franklin For All at the Franklin For All Website at You can also sign up at to stay up to date on engagement opportunities and project updates.
Again, register for the March 7th  Franklin For All Public Forum Zoom Session.
here at You can also attend in person at Franklin Town Council Chambers, 355 East Central St., Franklin.