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Sunday, October 8, 2017


Friday, October 6, 2017

First Amendment Rights Abridged

Original photo has been removed
Political cartoons express the artist’s opinion and draw attention to an issue by combining artistic skill, hyperbole and satire. Yesterday I posted a political cartoon photo I created relating to the Framingham Mayoral race. It was meant in humor as any political cartoon/illustration is. In my own way, it was created in the spirit of countless political cartoons from around the world over the past hundreds of years. Not only was my cartoon photo attacked but I am being attacked as "racist and misogynistic" by readers of FramGov on-line and in personal e-mails to me.

To those people who don't know the person I am, I would like to tell the Framingham community that I am a visual and creative artist. I find great excitement making things that never existed. That is what I call being creative. I enjoy developing ideas and "speaking" through my fine art painting, graphic design, photography, computer work and even my Framingham Matters website.

I created the Framingham Matters website to inform the Framingham community about important, sometimes humorous, matters in this town. This blogsite is a small publication. I receive no remuneration or benefits from the work I do. It is what I enjoy. I have no affiliations with either Mayoral campaign. Like it or not, it's my site and you are free to not look at it.

It is a sad commentary that this fractious election has resulted in an attack on my First Amendment rights.

Is the political game in Framingham dirty? Sure seems so from these eyes.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Skatepark construction underway





This 2015 rendering shows what a skatepark along Dudley Road at Farm Pond might look like. After 15 years of promises and disappointments, Town Meeting approved funds to begin construction. Through the tireless efforts
of Judith Grove, the skatepark is becoming a reality. Situated in a park-like setting with water views of Farm Pond, the skatepark will be another treasure for Framingham youngsters added to the Cushing Park complex.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Waushakum Farm Community: A new name for District 8

“Waushakum Farm” is a fitting name for the newly formed neighborhood community, once fields and pastures. A farm was established in 1867 with 200-acres of grazing cattle and fields of corn purchased by Edward Lewis Sturtevant. In the nineteenth century the name, Waushakum Farm, became nationally famous for agricultural experiments by Dr. E. Lewis Sturtevant and his two brothers.

Aerial map of South Framingham (1898). It was at this time that Waushakum Farm
As a collective group of neighbors, we have the ability to make changes to improve our community. We can sponsor neighborhood events, block parties, crime prevention activities and upgrading public spaces and making Waushakum Beach more accessible. We can influence town government to correct traffic concerns as an example. Be informed and involved, meet your neighbors and let’s work together to preserve and enhance the unique beauty and residential character of our neighborhood.

-- George Lewis, Founder of Waushakum Farm Community

History of Waushakum Farm

Edward Lewis Sturtevant (1842-1898) and Waushakum Farm – Framingham farmer, botanist, physician and author, was one of the giants of his time in the science of agriculture. In 1867, E. Lewis Sturtevant together with his brothers, Joseph N. and Thomas L. Sturtevant purchased 200 acres at Waushakum Pond in South Framingham, Massachusetts. The farm soon became famous, under the name “Waushakum Farm,” for a series of brilliant experiments in agriculture.

The immediate concern of the Sturtevant brothers, however, was the development of a model dairy farm of Ayrshire cattle. Waushakum Farm soon became the home of this breed. Several scientific aspects of this work with Ayrshires are worth noting. Milk records of the herd and of individual animals, covering many milking periods, were kept and still constitute, according to dairymen of our day, a most valuable contribution to dairying.

But even in these first days on Waushakum Farm, the Ayrshires did not occupy all of his time. Indian corn attracted Sturtevant from the first. No sooner had he settled on Waushakum Farm than he began a botanical and cultural study of maize which he continued to the time of his death. The first fruits of his work with corn was the introduction of an improved variety of Yellow Flint, the new sort being called “Waushakum.” Breeding this new variety was a piece of practical work that brought Waushakum Farm more prominence in agriculture than any of his scientific work, “scientific farming” at that time not being in high repute with tillers of the soil.

One of Dr. Sturtevant’s Ayrshire cows.
Dr. Sturtevant kept meticulous breeding records of each of his cattle.
Click on photo to read his historic book, “The Dairy Cow.”
To Sturtevant is given the credit of having built the first lysimeter in America. This instrument, to measure the percolation of water through a certain depth of soil, was put in on the Waushakum Farm in 1875.

As the years advanced, he put more and more energy in the rapidly growing field of agricultural research until finally experimentation came to claim most of his attention. His eminence in research on Waushakum Farm brought him many opportunities to speak and write on agricultural affairs, in which work his facile pen and ready speech greatly enhanced his reputation as an experimenter.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Vote "Yes" for a City Government On April 4

by Judith Grove
Town Meeting Member, Chair of Precinct 15

Any doubts I may have had about voting “Yes” for a City form of government were dispelled by what happened at the Special Town Meeting on February 28, 2017.

Background

All three articles concerned Tax Incentive Financing (TIFs) for two downtown Framingham developments These TIFS amount to $8.7 million in tax breaks. The purpose of TIFs is to promote housing and commercial development in commercial centers. TIFs are rarely given to apartment buildings with little to no retail like these projects, because they do not create jobs. They are taxed at a lower residential rate and cost the taxpayers money for educating the children who live there.

Community and Economic Development estimated these 2 development would generate 65 students, a tax burden of about $1 million. The estimated yearly tax revenues from them is $1.37 million. In addition to school expenses, they will incur costs for other services such as Fire, Police, Inspectional Services, and the Department of Public Works.
Proposed Neighborhood Districts if Framingham becomes a city

Scant data was given to support the 65-student estimate which I believe is too low. The 467 apartments will include 22 studios, 227 1-bedroom, 186 2-bedroom and 32 3-bedroom units. Unlike the Staples CMU which was proposed for an office park on Route 9, these downtown apartments could appeal to families because of their proximity to transportation, restaurants, parks, churches, the library and schools. If there were no children in the 227 studio and 1-bedroom units and just one child in each of 2 and 3 bedroom units, the number of students could be as high as 218, adding about $3.4 million/year in educational costs, which is more than twice the tax revenue.

TIFs are usually given for the 1-4 years before the apartment are occupied. Ways & Means, the Finance Committee and TMMs expressed concern that the 75 Concord Street TIF is too long - 15 years. Economic Development was unable to negotiate a shorter TIF with the Developer.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Board of Selectmen fails to respond to public pleas

A letter from Judith Grove to the Board of Selectmen following her presentation at the BOS meeting on February 14.

"On December 29, 2016 and January 17, 2017 I sent detailed e-mails to the Board of Selectmen about serious issues regarding 4 businesses at 350 Irving Street, which affect the residents and especially the taxpayers of Framingham. I received no response from you, so I spoke before you at your meeting on January 24th and gave you documents on the issues I raised. Still no response from any of you. This is my fourth attempt to get your attention.

Landscape Depot claims at ZBA meetings that their business is not considered a landscape business but says they are like Home Depot

"Here is a brief summary of the problems with the businesses operating on the toxic coal tar polluted property at 350 Irving Street, a former gas manufacturing plant:

     1. All the permit applications to the ZBA were incomplete or had false information.
     2. They applicants allowed their permits to expire for 6 years and paid no back fees or fines. Landscape Depot allowed 10 businesses to squat on the property and pay no taxes.
     3. No Personal Property (PP) taxes were paid for 15 years by the 14 businesses operating on this property and all of them were unknown to the Town Assessor’s office.
     4. Although being monitored by the Fire Department and the Board of Health’s Licensed Site Professional trying to teach them “Best Practices”, Landscape Depot had 2 more fires in 5 months.
     5. While they paid nothing to the town, we taxpayers paid the bill for the myriad Town services they consume from Town Manager to the Police, DPW, Inspectional Services, BOH, Legal Department and most of all the Fire Department (16 fires on toxic property in 6 years)

"I have repeatedly asked the Board of Selectmen the following questions:

     1. Will these businesses be made to pay their Personal Property taxes and back permit fees and taxes?
     2. Will they be charged for excessive use of our FD? (16 fires in 6 years)

"Since you did not respond I contacted the Assessor’s office and the Fire Department and obtained this information:

     1. The Assessor’s Department has billed LD $11,000 in PP taxes for the current year. They cannot bill them for missed PP taxes or Permit fees. Since LD has been in Framingham for 15 years, the Town has lost out on about $150,000 of tax money. This does not include lost revenue from the other 14 businesses that operated there.
     2. The Fire Department will now bill Landscape Depot for additional mulch fires.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Neighborhood frustrated with lack of responsibility, accountability and action of Government departments and Board of Selectmen

From a S.T.O.P. supporter to the new Fire Department Chief (December 30, 2016)

Hello Chief Hicks,

I am requesting a copy of the Fire Department report for the fire at Landscape Depot on November 28, 2016. We were unaware that this fire occurred until the December 13, 2016 ZBA meeting at which Mr. Mullen's lawyer made an opening statement that Landscape Depot should be given their Special Permit because they are following Best Practices and only had one fire, on July 4, 2016.

Mulch fire at Landscape Depot on November 28, 2016. Another mulch fire ocurred on July 4, 2016. Please read artucle here. http://framinghammatters.blogspot.com/2016/07/once-again-mulch-fires-at-350-irving.html


It was not until later, under direct questioning, that Mr. Mullen admitted a second fire occurred on November 28th. This additional fire made no difference to the ZBA. They read your statement of support for granting the permit because you wrote that LD is following Best Practices.

We presented the ZBA with a number of compelling reasons why the permit should have been denied. Since then, we have sent these reasons to the Board of Selectmen and now to the Fire Department. I have highlighted issues directly applicable to the Fire Department.

The ZBA's decision to continue to grant permits to Landscape Depot despite all the thoroughly researched information we presented to you at the December 13, 2016 ZBA meeting is appalling. We asked many questions and in the very least we deserve answers to them.

1. Why has the ZBA decided to grant a Special Permit to 4 businesses under the "Storage and Distribution" Use when according to the Zoning by-laws, this "Use" is only granted by the Planning Board?



2. When will you investigate the fact that Mr. Mullen is doing Asphalt, Brick and Concrete reclamation? (Please see attached photo). Shouldn't this zoning by-law "prohibited use" violate his lease? How much time will he be given to correct this? Chief Hicks - When you did inspections, were you aware the ABC is a prohibited use?

3. Attached are photos of the LD mulch fires on July 4th and November 28, 2016. There have now been 16 fires in 5 years which continue despite the monitoring by our Fire Department and the efforts of the Board of Health and its Licensed Site Professional to teach LD "Best Practices". According to Fire Chief, Hicks, the Fire Department has no record of mulch fires at any other landscape mulch operation in Framingham, including D & D which is a much larger business. How many fires are O.K. with the ZBA in this environmental justice neighborhood? How many more fires are needed to claim a violation of LD's lease? Chief Hicks - do you have a limit on the number of fires? Does LD have fire insurance? Have they filed any claims? Does the Insurance Company know about the excessive number of fires?

4. Who and when will the ZBA investigate to see who altered the data on the Treasurer/Collector Form in Landscape Depot's application packet after it was filed with the ZBA in September? This form falsely stated that LD had paid their personal property taxes. Go on-line to your ZBA site and you will find that this form is now blank. Perhaps this issue would be better addressed by the Town's Legal Department? Chief Hicks - The Treasurer form also asks if "Alarm Billing" is Current or Past Due. Has LD been billed for excessive calls? If not, why not?

5. Were you satisfied with Mr. Mullen's response when asked if he had paid his Personal Property Taxes? He said no one told him he owed any taxes even though he admitted he paid them for his businesses in other towns. After 15 years of not paying taxes and allowing 10 business to squat on his property and also not pay any taxes, when will Mr. Mullen inform the Assessor's Office that he is doing business in Framingham? Shouldn't non-payment of taxes violate a lease? Will Mr. Mullen also pay back taxes for the last 15 years?

6. The Purpose of Framingham's Zoning By-laws is "to protect and promote life, health, safety, convenience and general welfare of the residents of Framingham?" Please explain how the general welfare of Framingham's residents is being served by the ZBA giving another permit to Landscape Depot, a business that pollutes our air, pays no taxes and makes liberal use of the many departments our tax dollars support such as: the Fire, Police, DPW, Legal, Inspectional Services and the Board of Health? Chief Hicks - do you believe the ZBA if following the By-laws to provide for the general welfare of the residents of Framingham?

7. What, if anything, would violate Landscape Depot's lease?

8. Is the Town willing to accept the liability if any workers, customers or trespassers are harmed while being on the toxic 350 Irving Street site now and even more worrisome, while the clean-up is in progress? Chief Hicks - does it concern you that a fireman could be injured putting out mulch fires?

9. Why has the ZBA placed the profits of Landscape Depot above the interests of our community?"

Please watch the video of the December 13, 2016 ZBA meeting on the Town website for the complete story on this issue...



The taxpayers of Framingham are entitled to accountability from our Departments and Boards and especially from the Board of Selectmen since you are they appointing authority for the ZBA.

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NOTE:
On January 4, 2017, Framingham Fire Chief, Joseph C. Hicks, had replied to these issues by saying, "I have faith that the Town's administrative entities are providing for the general welfare of the community" and "Safety is the top priority in every response."

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Do Framingham Government Departments operate like a hot dog stand?

“We run this Town like a HOT DOG STAND!” declared Zoning Board of Appeals Chair, Philip Ottaviani, at the December 13th meeting during which they heard Landscape Depot’s request to grant Special Permits for four businesses located on the 350 Irving Street toxic property which is owned by Eversource. He made this comment in response to the following facts which I presented:

   1. According the Assessor’s office the four businesses applying for permits were unknown to his office and have never paid any Personal Property (PP) taxes on their equipment. Landscape Depot, which has conducted business for 15 years in our Town, has front-end loaders, fork lifts, a trailer, office machine, equipment to grind yard waste into mulch etc.


   2. All the Permit Application packets were incomplete or had false information. Three of the applicants did not submit the Treasurer/Collector Form or left it blank. The Treasurer's forms were incomplete in previous years as well.

   3. The September 16, 2016 Landscape Depot Treasurer/Collector form was falsely checked as current for PP taxes paid while the application found on the ZBA on-line site is blank.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall Skatepark Public Design Meeting

Video of October 10, 2016 Skatepark Public Design Meeting held at the Memorial Building 

Preliminary design by Pillar Design

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

ZBA: Deny permits to Landscape Depot

by Judith Grove, Chair, Precinct 15

The purpose of the Zoning By-Laws is “to establish such regulations for the uses of land and structures as will protect and promote life, health, safety, convenience and general welfare of the residents of Framingham. The interpretation and application of the provisions of this By-Law shall be held to be minimum requirements, adopted for the promotion of the public health, safety, comfort, convenience, and overall general welfare.”    Section I Page 3

Town Meeting members protest health and safety concerns at 
Landscape Depot, 350 Irving Street on October 7.













-
On October 24th the Zoning Board of Appeals will decide if they will grant Landscape Depot a five-year extension of the one-year Special Permit, they granted them on November 2, 2015 despite the fact that:

⦁ Mass DEP had listed 350 Irving Street as a Priority Disposal Site. From 1889-1967 it was the site of a Manufactured Gas. Large portions of this property, especially low-lying areas were filled with by-products of gas production - carcinogenic coal tar, creosote, arsenic, sulfur and cyanide compounds.

2005 - MassDEP issued a Notice of Responsibility to NSTAR Gas. In 2008 NSTAR acquired the property to address the historical environmental conditions and paid Framingham $2 million in back taxes.

July 25, 2006 - the ZBA gave Landscape Depot (LD) and 3 other landscape, truck and tree companies a three-year Special Permit for storage of landscape equipment & supplies although this “Use” is under the purview of the Planning Board, not the ZBA. LD then allowed 10 other businesses to occupy this property. These businesses did not have permits.

2010 - 2011 - NSTAR excavated and disposed of 2,400 tons of sediment & wetland soil saturated with tar. 

2014 - When a group of Town Meeting Members (above photo) learned that LD’s mulch was sitting on contaminated land they raised their concerns at ZBA meetings that the mulch might also be contaminated and customers could be spreading it around their yards and in areas where children would be playing. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Once again: volatile mulch fires at 350 Irving Street

Vast continuous mulch pile that exceeds required 25' height limit and 30' mandatory separation between piles for safety reasons. To lessen chance of fire, mulch piles cannot exceed 300 cubic yards.


What Framingham citizens have to say 
about the July 4th mulch fire at Landscape Depot:

     Um...... I'm shocked. Really. Following best practices?
     And I thought they said they would behave from now on. - KG

     No.....not at all..... ...this is a direct indication why the ZBA should have denied the special permits for all the companies who were operating WITHOUT a legal permit for years.....All we will get is a protective defensive ring around the present government in Framingham and how great they are all doing. The Health department has the power to shut the site down....I want to hear more excuses from the Board of Selectmen and the BOH and any other board why this site is not shut down. - LK
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NOTE: Is Landscape Depot a landscape business? Under Framingham laws, a landscape business is not allowed at 350 Irving Street.
Business owner of Landscape Depot states he does not have a landscape business. He goes further to say that his business is similar to Home Depot. They sell bags of mulch but Landscape Depot grinds questionable wood materials and manufactures what is described as safe Enviro-mulch. Readers: would you consider Landscape Depot a "landscape" business?











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     Our firefighters don't need to be put in harms way by a business that does not seem to value their health and safety. The neighbors don't need to be exposed to smoke and the potential danger of fire spreading.
     With these fires seeming almost routine, how can this not be a safety hazard that can be addressed by the town in a meaningful way? - LD

     As was agreed, best practices required Landscape Depot to turn the mulch piles often enough to relieve any heat build-up? I don't see any attempt today to move the mulch piles. Who is responsible? Who should be held accountable? Is the Framingham Fire Department too passive. What exactly is their role? Does the Fire Department plan to fine Landscape Depot for Framingham Firefighters' s time, equipment, source of water? - GL

Friday, July 1, 2016

Recycling do's and don'ts


Single Stream Recycling Program Recycling Carts

The town provides recycling service to residential dwelling of up to 4 dwelling units that receive trash service by the town. One recycling cart is provided to each residential unit. Recycling carts are town property.

Place your cart at the curb with the wheels and handles away from the street. The automated truck requires at least 3 feet of clearance on each side of the cart and 12 feet of overhead clearance. Only recyclables in the cart will be collected; do not overfill or jam cart full of recyclable.

Curbside Recycling Overview

Recyclables are collected by a contractor, E.L. Harveys & Sons, Inc., every other week. Recycling is now collected single stream; combine all items in your recycling cart. Recycling collection is now fully automated and only materials inside the cart will be collected.