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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Franklin - Smart Growth

My home town is the spot light of an article by Bryan Urstadt in the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine (free registration required) today:
The next boom in real estate may have started with a wrecking crew. The target was a single abandoned furniture warehouse right in the center of the once-thriving downtown of Franklin. What went down with the warehouse may be the whole idea of living in a huge house on gobbled-up farmland in the suburbs and spending the better part of your life behind the wheel of a car.

Some good practical thinking went into the proposal and work being done by developer John Marini. He should take credit for exhibiting patience and persistence in pursuing his vision. As outlined in the article, the local zoning requirements grease the skids for 'standard urban devleopers' but makes developments like these take a 'special track' which adds time and cost to the ultimate project. Not that I am advocating for a greased skid on this side of the process either, there needs to be some fairness for all processes.

Because of the zoning laws in Franklin, building in the dense Smart Growth style is more difficult than a zoning-tailored project. “Most towns want 40,000-square-foot single-family lots,” says Marini. “But in the center of a town like Canton or Franklin, I think you should be able to build on 2,000-square-foot lots.” In Franklin, the smallest ready-made zoned lot is 5,000 feet. Less than that, and developer permits are in the time- and money-consuming “special” category.

I don't walk to the train station as much as I could. Good old unpredictable New England weather gets the prime blame on this one. I live a full mile from the station and try that in a driving rain storm or blizzard. Living closer to the station in this kind of urban setting would be much more convenient.
Is there Smart Growth in your neighborhood?
I'd be interested to know.
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