Land Use Planning and Zoning
Permanently preserved farmland.
About Land Use Planning
The FRCOG provides technical assistance to Franklin County towns on a wide range of land use planning activities. Services provided include preparation of Master Plans (also known as Local Comprehensive Plans) and Open Space and Recreation Plans. FRCOG staff also provide technical assistance to communities to comprehensively update their Zoning Bylaws or Subdivision Regulations or to prepare bylaws to address specific topics. These include topics such as Aquifer Protection, Site Plan Review, Performance Standards for Manufacturing, Floodplain Management, Solar Photovoltaic Installations, Affordable Housing, Farmland and Open Space Protection, or Planned Industrial Parks. FRCOG staff also work with local officials to create “Green Communities” Action Plans. Regional land use planning activities range from creating a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development to a Strategic Plan for Renewable Energy. Other services include assistance with preparing Commonwealth Capital Applications and training and technical assistance on Comprehensive Permits under M.G.L. Chapter 40B. Funding for land use planning activities is provided through State and Federal grants or through contracts with towns.
Pioneer Valley Renewable Energy Strategic Plan FRCOG staff, in partnership with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and an advisory council of experts, have recently completed the Pioneer Valley Clean Energy Plan to address how the communities, businesses, individuals and others in the region can reduce energy consumption, increase renewable energy generating capacity, and reduce emissions contributing to global warming. The Clean Energy Plan identifies four goals and identifies specific actions towns, businesses, non-profits and individuals can take. This plan also offers criteria for communities to consider when siting new renewable energy facilities to help meet the state's renewable energy generation goal. Click here to view the entire Final Pioneer Valley Renewable Energy Strategic Plan.
Open Space and Recreation Planning In 2010, FRCOG staff are assisting the towns of Wendell, Montague, and Leyden to update their Open Space and Recreation Plans. The staff are also assisting in finalizing the Plans for Erving and Warwick. An Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) helps a community to act strategically to protect and enhance the natural, cultural, and recreational resources they value most, makes them eligible to receive Land (Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity) and PARC (Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations) grants from Massachusetts Division of Conservation Service, and increases their ranking for other competitive state grants.
HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program The FRCOG and its Project Partners were selected as one of 45 regional areas nationwide to receive a Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant, administered by the Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This three year planning grant will be used to create a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPDS) that will be used to guide planning and implementation activities at both the regional and local levels. The RPSD will address housing, transportation, economic development, energy, infrastructure, and natural and cultural resources.
Zoning Bylaw & Subdivision Regulations The FRCOG staff provides technical assistance to Towns to update their Zoning Bylaw and Subdivision Regulations. Over the past decade, FRCOG staff have worked with over half of the communities in Franklin County to update their Zoning Bylaws or Subdivisions Regulations including comprehensive revisions.
Green Communities Technical AssistanceSigned into law by Governor Patrick in July 2008, the landmark Green Communities Act provided the foundation for a new Program within DOER to serve as the hub for cities and towns on all matters related to energy. The Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) is one of six (6) consultants selected by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to provide planning assistance to communities seeking to become designated “Green Communities”. As the provider of planning assistance to these communities, the FRCOG is working with 16 between now and June 2010 to develop Action Plans that describe how each of the Green Communities’ criteria will be met. (photo credit: Pioneer Valley Photovoltaics)
A Best Management Practices Model for Streamlined Local Permitting is a pdf booklet (4.3 M pdf file) that has been created by The Massachusetts Association of Regional Planning Agencies (MARPA) as a reference guide to provide a variety of ways to implement a more efficient and effective permitting process at the local level. The Model includes ideas on how to enhance communication with permit applicants, standardize the permitting process, and plan ahead for development.
This page was last updated on 10/23/2012 .