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FRANKLIN, MA-In an effort to prevent heavy industry from being established near residents, town planners here have established an office-zoning designation that they are looking to apply to three parcels.

Located about 30 miles south of Boston, Franklin is noted for being the state’s third-fastest-growing town — behind Boston and Lynn — but has also been criticized for allowing its development to go unchecked. The three parcels proposed as office districts comprise 62 acres between King and Washington streets next to Route 495; 230 acres south of West Central Street from Forge Park to the Bellingham line; and 39 acres off Pond Street at an old sewer bed site. None of the parcels is currently being used as commercial properties.

“Franklin only had industrial and commercial zoning,” Todd Ford, director of planning for the town, tells GlobeSt.com. “We didn’t have a transitional district.” According to Ford, the new designation was created to be a blend, which allows for research and development and office space at the same time as it allows for restaurants, retail and service. “The same area that has a large economic development such as a hotel or office park can have retail and service within it,” notes Ford, who emphasizes that this would enable employees and clients to meet all their needs without leaving the development, thereby not adding to area traffic.

But a number of local residents don’t see it that way. The three parcels were the subjects of public hearings last week before the Town Council and two of the parcels are expected to be rezoned at the council’s meeting this week. But there is intense local opposition to the King and Washington Street parcel, which is currently zoned for single-family residential. The parcel is surrounded on three sides by residential developments and a petition opposing the zoning change has garnered over 100 signatures. Among the resident’s concerns are traffic, water and noise issues as well as the visual impact of development.

Public hearings are going to continue on the proposed office zone between King and Washington streets. The Planning Board will then continue its hearing and the issue will go before the town council.

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