Town COuncil

Term: 2 Years

MELANIE hAMBLEN (incumbent)

Candidate Website/Social Media Address


Candidate Biography

My husband Neal and I moved to Franklin from Westwood in 2010. My son was in college and we thought, let's find a smaller house in a town with more outdoor space, a nice downtown, a great library, a lower tax rate, a town close to a train line so I could get to my job at Children’s Hospital where I worked in a Hematology Oncology research lab. Franklin checked all the boxes.

After 30 years in research science it was time for a change so in March 2016 we purchased the Franklin Agway and dedicated ourselves to Franklin. Joining and volunteering for the Franklin Downtown Parthership, participating in ShopFranklin movie nights and other events as well as helping with food drives for the Franklin Food Pantry.

In 2017 I ran for my first term on the Town Council. If re-elected this year it will be my third term.

I’m a mom, a grandmother, a caregiver to my 95 year old WW2 veteran dad who lives with us, a business owner, a volunteer, an open space and farm advocate. I like to: problem solve, find consensus and commonalities and listen to ideas and facts and think about how an issue will affect all of Franklin.

Will you support putting the override on the ballot this term? If not, how do you propose addressing the fiscal challenges set out in the FY2021 budget message?

I will always support the right of the community to vote for how it wants to fund it’s future.

One of the things I have learned after going through the budget process a few times now is that there are so many moving parts including: property values, new growth, hotel taxes, permit revenues, grants, State funding, maybe Federal funding. With all these variables it’s not easy to predict funding. The operating budget process starts with the department heads working on their budgets from Juy-December, State aid and Governor's budget late January, FINCOMM meetings, joint committee hearings in Feb-April and then the budget hearings when the Town Council approves the budget in May-June. There is a great flow chart on the Town’s website for details:

How do you propose supporting Franklin’s small businesses? What actions Town Council should take to attract more small businesses to Franklin?

As chair of the Economic Development Sub Committee I was a huge proponent of holding listening sessions to ask the business community how and what the Town and Council could do to help businesses thrive.

Outcomes of the listening sessions include:

1. Changing craft brewery bylaw tasting room description to make it easier for businesses.

2. Reduced restaurant licensing fees for 2021.

3. Increased areas for food trucks.

4. Encouraged town staff to create a business guide.

5. Supported Franklin First gift cards.

6. Started a home craft business discussion.

7. Started a Town Branding and wayfinding sign discussion.

8. Recommended a proposal to have a zoning study completed for the Downtown Commercial and C1 areas.

What accomplishments are you most proud of during your most recent tenure? Or, if you are a new candidate, what achievements make you most qualified for the position?

I am proud of the council and the town for working through Covid. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you work together as a team.

In addition to the outcomes from the EDC SubCommittee I will pick out a subset of the TC highlights :

1. Complete streets policy approved

2. CPA and the purchase of Maple Hills

3. Interceptor replacement plan approved

4. Chair of the Stormwater Information Committee

I have created a list of my highlights and goals for the 2019-2021 term that you can find on my facebook page. or here:

What do you believe the Town Council’s priorities should be for the upcoming term?

I do have a few issues I would like the council to prioritize for the 2021-2023 term. At the beginning of the term we hold a brainstorming session to create a list that includes items from everyone. My list will include these:

1. Evaluate the Zoning study of the Downtown and Commercial 1 areas.

2. Continue the Stormwater utility discussion

3. Police Station Study Evaluation

4. Housing production plan final approval

In its 2020 update to implementation of the 2013 Master Plan, the Department of Planning & Community Development (DPCD) recommended two goals related to housing in Franklin, the first goal is to provide an appropriate mix of housing alternatives for middle income workers. The second goal is to support development opportunities for low, moderate and middle income households preventing many in Franklin from being able to find affordable housing. Are you in support of these goals? Why or why not?

I agree that we need to find solutions to the housing issues we are facing, that is why the EDC started a discussion about inclusionary zoning and approved the Housing Production Plan that Bryan Taberner of Franklin’s Community Planning and Development department and staff put together. Once the plan is approved by the State we can then implement some of the recommendations.

In the FY22 Budget Hearing, the Superintendent of Schools presented data showing Franklin falls in the 22nd percentile statewide for Net School Spending (state aid + local contribution) and 75% of districts in Massachusetts spend more, per pupil, than Franklin. Do you believe Franklin's local contribution to education should increase? Reference:

The fact that Franklin spends less per pupil than 75% of other towns in Massachusetts makes me worry about the children in our community. Are we really doing the best we can for them? I understand that enrollment is down, but this spend is per pupil. I know cuts have been made. It’s time to stop and be honest with ourselves and ask “can we do better?”

In its 2020 update to implementation of the 2013 Master Plan, the Department of Planning & Community Development, (DPCD) recommended two goals with regard to transportation and infrastructure. Goal one was to improve and maintain the Town’s public roadway system. The second goal is to make the Town more walkable and bikeable by creating and maintaining safe interconnected pedestrian and bicycle routes. Are you in support of this why or why not? How do you propose funding?

One of my priorities this term was to promote a complete streets policy, which was approved by the full council. A Complete Street is one that provides safe and accessible options for all travel modes - walking, biking, transit and vehicles – for people of all ages and abilities.

Now that the policy has been approved by the Council it allows the Town to be more competitive for State Funding Programs.