Don’t forget to stop by the Franklin Community Garden at King Street Memorial Park today from 9-12 to pick up fresh organic tomato and scallion seedlings! Weather permitting, we’ll be there tomorrow too, same time. All seedlings are $1-3. See you there!
It’s Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the summer season, and the weather has definitely been acting like summer is here already.
Here in Franklin, one of the clearest signs of summer is the return of the weekly farmer’s market on the Town Common, and we are just one week away from this year’s kickoff! From June 3 to October 28, stop by the Common every Friday (except July 1) from noon to 6 PM and check out what our wonderful local vendors have to offer.
For more info and a list of this year’s vendors, check out the market’s website. I’ll see you there!
If you’ve ever bought a home, or you’re currently in the buying process, you’ve probably heard your Realtor ask you the following question: “Do you have a home you need to sell before you buy?” At first glance, that question makes perfect sense. After all, many people who are moving from one home they own to another will need the proceeds from the sale of their current home in order to afford their new one. There’s more to your Realtor’s question than you might realize, though!
The reason we ask our clients this question is not just financial; it’s because of what we like to call “the domino effect.” Homes aren’t bought and sold in a vacuum, and chances are good that the people who are selling the home you’re buying are going to need somewhere new to go as well, and if something goes wrong with their purchase, it can affect everyone down the line.
For example, let’s say Alice and Bob are first-time buyers, and they find the perfect home. The sellers, Cathy and Dave, have outgrown their starter home and they’re ready to move up. Once Alice and Bob sign a purchase and sale agreement to buy Cathy and Dave’s home, Cathy and Dave make an offer on a home owned by Elizabeth. Since Cathy and Dave are working with a great Realtor, the sale of their current home to Alice and Bob is contingent on Cathy and Dave finding suitable housing (in other words, they can’t finalize the sale of their current home until they have somewhere else to go). What that means is that if Cathy and Dave can’t go through with their purchase of Elizabeth’s home, their sale of their current home to Alice and Bob is in jeopardy. In turn, if Elizabeth is trying to purchase a home owned by Frank and George, and HER purchase falls through, everybody down the line all the way to Alice and Bob could be in trouble.
That’s why your Realtor really wants to know if you have something to sell, and why we check with the seller’s Realtor to find out what’s going on at that end. In order to give you the best possible service and make sure your purchase can go through all the way to closing, we need to follow the line of dominoes all the way to the end and keep our eyes on anything that could cause them to fall.
For this week’s #ShopFranklin Spotlight, I interviewed Melanie Hamblen of Franklin Agway!
The Agway has been around in Franklin for a long time, but it’s about to undergo a major metamorphosis. A biologist by trade, Mel and her husband, Neal White, bought the business less than two months ago, and they’ve been busy turning it into what Mel likes to call “a hardware store for my lifestyle.” At their home, they keep chickens and bees, and Mel has been gardening since childhood, so when they moved to Franklin in 2010, Mel and Neal found themselves spending a lot of their free time at the Agway. Unfortunately, their commutes to downtown Boston every day meant that they didn’t have a lot of free time to spend. Although they were happy with their new home, they found that they didn’t have enough time to get to know their neighbors and the community as well as they would like. “We felt after a while that we were missing some kind of connection,” Mel says. “There was something missing… it was really important to be happy and to live a better life.”
In 2014, Mel and Neal made their first attempt to buy the Franklin Agway, but the purchase didn’t work out at that point. The idea was never far from their minds, though, and earlier this year, the time was finally right to make the move. Mel and Neal became the new owners of the Agway in late March of 2016, and while the former owners stayed on for a couple of weeks to help out, there were hundreds of things for them to do. Despite the stress and long hours involved in the transition, Mel knew instantly that they’d made the right move. “After three days here, Neal said to me, ‘These have to be the best three days of work of my life!’”
The Agway’s new motto is “Feed it. Grow it. Make it,” and Mel’s plan is to turn it into more than just a store. “If we don’t have it, we can try to get it for you,” she says, but she also wants to make the Agway into a resource and education center for the local community. How-to classes are definitely in Mel’s long-term plan for the store; she makes her own beer, cheese, and yogurt, among other things, and she knows others in the community would be interested in learning as well. “There’s a lot of things to learn how to do and a lot of times people don’t have the time to learn on their own, and they want somebody to tell them ‘What’s the best way you’ve found to do things?’” She’s already started compiling advice from her expert employees to post on the store’s new blog, such as Marty the “lawn guy’s” answers to a list of frequently asked questions on lawn and garden care. Mel’s “goal is to get [Ryan] our chicken expert to write some things, Emily’s here and she’s a horse person, I grow all the plants from seed and do all kinds of stuff… so when I start getting more questions from people I’ll post those.” Also featured prominently on the new website are the Agway’s local farmers and suppliers, such as Nick Hoffman of Hoffman Farm in Franklin, and Jim Ward of Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon.
With more and more people turning their back yards into urban farms, the Agway is the place to go for all the supplies you need to keep your flocks and hives happy and healthy. Mel and Neal now stock beekeeping supplies, and they’ll soon be carrying a full range of all-natural, organic feed and other products for chickens. If you’re interested in keeping your own little flock, Mel notes that Franklin does have some regulations to follow, but chickens are “pretty easy to take care of and they’re a lot of fun. If I let them out when I’m digging in the garden, they’ll follow me around and eat all the worms.” As long as they have a sheltered place out of the wind, they’ll get through a Massachusetts winter just fine, according to Mel. Although her chicken expert says they don’t really need a heat lamp in their coop, Mel has one for her six chickens anyway. “I’m kind of soft on my chickens!” she laughs.
While you can still get conventional lawn and garden treatments at the Agway, Mel and Neal are “trying to find alternatives to everything,” and they plan to carry a wide range of organic and all-natural fertilizers, weed controls, pest controls, and more. As beekeepers, they’re especially passionate about finding alternatives to neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been implicated in colony collapse disorder. “I like to believe that people really want to know how to be more thoughtful and become better stewards of the earth, but they don’t know what to do, and I feel like our role is to help them,” Mel says. “I like being that resource for people.”
Wondering what all this construction has been leading up to? From the office of Town Administrator Jeff Nutting, here’s some very important information – please read and share!
“Dear Franklin Resident:
This is the first announcement to the community that the traffic pattern will be changing in Downtown Franklin toward the end of June, 2016. The one-way traffic pattern in downtown, which many have become accustomed to, will be changing to two-way traffic. Yes, that’s correct: traffic around the downtown triangle will soon become two-way! We encourage everyone to take it a little slower in their daily business to make sure you get accustomed to the new flow of traffic.
While the date has not been specified yet when the traffic pattern will become two-way, we can’t begin to educate the community soon enough. We encourage you to follow the town website and social media (Facebook, Twitter) feeds, as well as the Town’s traditional local media channels to stay tuned for specific updates over the coming month. We are counting on you to help spread the word.
A map is attached of the new traffic routes. I encourage you to print it out, send it to friends and family and begin to spread the word.
As part of the construction contract with the state, the Town will be placing electronic boards at all intersections of downtown when the traffic transitions to two-way. New lane markings will be painted around the entire downtown, as well as signage in key areas. Individual letters will also be distributed to all downtown businesses to help educate their customers of the traffic flow when exiting their business. The Town will also be doing as much publicity as possible through its own social media feeds and through traditional local media channels on this pattern change.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the community for their patience during the recent construction in downtown. The Town is installing many public benefits, including new sidewalks, new paving, better pedestrian-friendly accommodations, and many beautification efforts to enhance the vibrancy of the downtown. The planning effort for this project has taken well over a decade and I am confident residents will enjoy the new amenities.
If any resident has any questions, feel free to contact the Town Administrator’s Office at 508-520-4949.
Jeff Nutting, Town Administrator
Jamie Hellen, Deputy Town Administrator”
From the office of Town Administrator Jeff Nutting, here’s the latest on the downtown construction…
“Contractors will be in tomorrow to begin the resin crosswalks around downtown. This week will be strictly milling the crosswalks (3/4″) on Main Street.
Next week will be the resin pouring of the crosswalks. There will some lane closures/detours on Main Street by Lincoln tomorrow, Wednesday the 18th. We will wait until school traffic has subsided before we begin.
Please be mindful when you approach downtown, significant construction will be occurring over the next ten days leading up to Memorial Day Weekend.
If anyone has a question, please feel free to reach out to the DPW Director, Brutus Cantoreggi or Town Engineer, Michael Maglio at 508-553-5500 or Jeffrey Nutting, Town Administrator at 508-520-4949.”
From the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, here’s the real estate activity report for April 2016!
“Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported a mixed bag when it came to Norfolk County real estate activity for April 2016.
The Register stated, “There was definitely some conflicting statistics when it came to comparing April 2016 versus April 2015. While we saw a 7% rise in the amount of commercial and residential real estate transactions in 2016, we also witnessed a 7% slide in the volume of dollars associated with these transactions. In addition, the average real estate sales price, both commercial and residential combined was $602,722, a surprising 22% reduction.”
“Additionally there was also a little softness in the mortgage financing market for the same period of time,” noted Register O’Donnell. “The mortgage market was flat for the month of April. The total number of mortgages increased a slight 1% compared to the same time last year. Total mortgage financing dollars actually fell 2% to $1.02 billion compared to $1.04 billion figure posted in April 2015.”
On the consumer front, Homestead recordings, which provide limited protection against the forced sale of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000, decreased 2% from April 2015 to April 2016. A total of 884 Homesteads were recorded versus 905 during this comparative time period. Further information regarding the Homestead Act can be found on the Registry’s website at http://www.norfolkdeeds.org.
A disconcerting note regarding the April 2016 real estate activity was the continuing increase in foreclosure activity in Norfolk County. The total number of foreclosure deeds recorded during the month was 16, the same figure that was recorded during April 2015. However, the number of Notices to Foreclose Mortgages recorded, the first step in the foreclosure process, jumped to 68 for the month of April compared to 36 recordings in April 2015, a rise of 82%.
“For many months,” stated Register O’Donnell, “lending institutions have been working to process foreclosures dating back to the 2008 economic slowdown. While there is some evidence that there are more and more new foreclosures happening, we are still seeing foreclosure activity with residents that have been struggling with this issue for some time. My office continues to partner with Quincy Community Action Programs at (617) 479-8181 x-376 and Neighbor Works Southern Mass at (508) 598-0950 for those who have received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lender. Another option for homeowners is to call the Massachusetts Attorney General’s HomeCorps program at (617) 573-5333.
In conclusion Register O’Donnell stated, “The number of real estate sales transactions recorded during the month of April 2016 clearly tells us that Norfolk County continues to be a destination location for individuals and families to live and work. I would say, however, that prospective homeowners are being more cautious in making their real estate purchases. As long as the county’s inventory levels do not fall significantly, I believe the late spring and summer months could produce solid real estate results for Norfolk County.”
To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, like us at facebook.com/NorfolkDeeds or follow us on twitter.com/NorfolkDeeds.
The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, located at 649 High Street, Dedham, is the principal office for real property in Norfolk County. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center at (781) 461-6101, or on the web at http://www.norfolkdeeds.org.
Register William P. O’Donnell
Norfolk County Registry of Deeds