Adopted by the Franklin Selectboard on: June 21,2017

Amended by the Franklin Selectboard on: August 15,2018


Prepared By

The Franklin Planning Commission

With Technical Assistance from Northwest Regional Planning Commission


Table of Contents


CHAPTER 1 Introduction.. 1

Purpose - What is a town plan and why should Franklin have one?. 1

Authority. 2

CHAPTER 2 Plan Goals, Policies and Objectives. 3

Goals, Policies and Objectives. 3

CHAPTER 3 Community Profile. 15

Population.. 15

Age. 16

Housing.. 17

Employment. 19

Income. 22

Fiscal Conditions and the Grand List. 24

CHAPTER 4 Scenic, Historic, and Archaeological Resources. 26

Location and Boundaries. 26

Town History. 27

Historic, Scenic, and Archeological Resources. 29

CHAPTER 5 Economy. 31

The Local Economy. 31

Major Industry Sectors. 31

Desired Location, Type and Scale of Economic Development. 32

Village Designation.. 33

CHAPTER 6 Community Facilities. 35

Town Clerk’s Office. 35

Library. 35

Town Hall. 35

The Homestead and Carriage House. 35

Town Garage. 35

Recreation.. 36

Other Resources. 36

CHAPTER 7 Community Services. 38

Police Protection.. 38

Fire Protection.. 38

Rescue and Health Care Services. 38

Solid Waste Disposal. 39

CHAPTER 8 Community Utilities. 40

Water Supply Systems. 40

Wastewater Disposal/Sewage Systems. 41

CHAPTER 9 Energy. 42

Enhanced Energy Plan.. 42

Energy Resources, Needs, Scarcities, Costs and Problems. 43

Targets for Use and Generation.. 45

Mapping Energy Resources and Constraints. 48

Conclusion.. 50

Franklin Energy Maps. 55

CHAPTER 10 Transportation.. 62

Transportation Planning.. 62

Town Road System... 62

Public Transportation.. 63

Other Transportation Systems. 64

CHAPTER 11 Education.. 66

Local Education.. 66

Other Educational Facilities. 67

Childcare. 67

CHAPTER 12 Natural Conditions and Features. 68

Climatic Conditions. 68

Air Quality. 68

Topography and Geology. 69

Soils. 70

Earth Resources. 71

Surface Waters. 72

Groundwater. 74

Fragile and Unique Areas. 76

Wetlands. 76

Wildlife Habitat. 77

Flood Resiliency. 78

CHAPTER 13 Land Use. 82

Existing Land Use. 82

Land Cover. 83

Quality of Life. 83

Proposed Land Use Districts. 83

CHAPTER 14 Compatibility with Neighboring Towns. 86

CHAPTER 15 Implementing the Plan.. 87

Appendix A – Structures on State Historic Register. 91

CHAPTER 1 Introduction





Purpose - What is a town plan and why should Franklin have one?

In very basic terms, a town plan is a community statement describing the community’s past present, and vision for the future.  This statement is arrived at by identifying community issues and needs, collecting and analyzing background information, and combining them into a vision (statement) of how the community should develop.  Goals, objectives, and policies are usually formulated to address specific issues or "elements" such as land use, resource protection, economic development, transportation, housing, education, and utilities and facilities.


The plan should be an accurate reflection of the needs and wants of town residents, based on the ability to economically provide for those needs and wants, while recognizing the values, capabilities, and limitations, of the town's natural environment.  Information contained in this plan is based on community knowledge, available data, existing regulations, and community needs.   


Efforts toward municipal planning in Franklin date back to the early 1970's.  Franklin's first duly adopted municipal plan went into effect in April, 1976, and was revised and readopted on June 2, 1981.  Since 1981, Franklin has updated the plan four times (1992, 2000, 2006 and 2012).    According to Vermont Statute, municipal plans expire every eight years and must be updated and readopted. 


This Town Plan was developed with the following purposes in mind: to guide Franklin Town officials, residents, and persons contemplating actions involving land use, on matters of land development, the economic provision of facilities and services, resource use and conservation, public health, safety, and welfare.  Beyond these purposes the Franklin Town Plan serves as the legal basis for land use regulations and capital budget programs which the Town may wish to adopt.


The plan may also affect state agency planning decisions, state and federal regulatory proceedings, including Act 250 Hearings and the Certificate of Public Good proceedings.  The Select Board and Planning Commission are statutory parties to Act 250 applications involving Franklin.  Determination of a specific project’s conformance with the Town Plan is one criteria in the Act 250 process.  A similar process exists for renewable energy generation facilities seeking a Certificate of Public Good from the Public Utilities Commission.   


The need for involvement of Town residents in the planning process cannot be overstated.  While it is the responsibility of the planning commission to develop the plan, citizens should take an active role by assisting the Planning Commission in gathering information and formulating plan policies for guiding development.


Finally, planning is a continuous process; plans can be amended to meet new challenges or situations.  Plans must be updated every eight years or they expire.  This provides opportunities for citizen involvement and acts as a review of the effectiveness of the plan and its policies. 


The Franklin Town Plan has been prepared under authority of Title 24 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated, Chapter 117, also known as "The Vermont Municipal and Regional Planning and Development Act". Vermont Statutes Annotated, Title 24, Chapter 117 will henceforth be referred to in this document as "The Act.”  Your local representatives, the Regional Planning Commission and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns are good resources for keeping up to date with changes to the Act.

CHAPTER 2 Plan Goals, Policies and Objectives




Goals, Policies and Objectives


The following goals, policies and objectives form the policy framework for the Franklin Town Plan. They are located in this chapter and numbered according to section for easy reference.


Chapter 3.  Community Profile


Population, Growth, and Fiscal Conditions Goals and Policies



3-1.      To maintain a sound fiscal balance for the Town, to encourage reasonable, functional, orderly development of facilities, utilities and services, and to promote agriculture while providing a stable economic base for the other sectors of the economy.



A balance of public and private investment is necessary to provide a sound economic base for our community.  The cost of the provision of services must be made based on the available tax revenues and reasonable public and private investment.  Town government is charged with providing for orderly growth and services at a rate that does not unduly tax the residents, yet protects the health, safety, and welfare of those same citizens.   




The rate of growth must not exceed the ability of the residents of the Town to pay for necessary services and facilities.


Development should occur based on projected need, availability of revenues to provide services, and recognition of the limits of human, financial, and natural resources.


Public investments should further the purposes of this plan in providing for orderly and fiscally responsible growth.


The development of infrastructure should not significantly impact natural or human resources outlined in this plan unless there is a demonstrated public need.




To diversify Franklin's economic base to provide maximum economic benefit with minimum negative environmental impact.


Housing Goal, Policies, and Objectives



3-2.      To provide a variety of safe and affordable housing adequate to meet the needs of the citizens of Franklin.




Housing that is safe, sanitary, and energy-efficient should be available to the residents of Franklin.


New residential construction should be designed and/or phased to reduce the impacts on municipal services, the local tax burden, and the impacts on land.


The legal conversion of seasonal property to year-round use should be allowed with appropriate development standards in the Franklin Zoning Bylaws.    




To encourage the provision of housing which is affordable to the residents of Franklin.


To encourage the rehabilitation of existing housing through the use of existing programs or volunteer efforts.


To provide a diversity of housing types and ownership, including rental, seasonal, and senior housing.


Chapter 4.  Setting, Historic and Archeological Resources


Historic Goal, Objectives, and Policies



4-1.      To protect, preserve and maintain historic sites and structures in the Town of Franklin.

4-2.      To protect, preserve and maintain specific scenic viewsheds in Franklin.



Prehistoric and historic sites are an essential link to our past and represent significant social and cultural investment and deserve consideration in the planning process.  Efforts should be made to reduce or mitigate negative impacts on these valuable resources.




Places of outstanding historical or educational value should be protected from development that would unreasonably impair their character or quality.


Rehabilitation of historic structures should be encouraged.


Specific scenic viewsheds, as identified in this plan, shall be protected from land development. 




To encourage the public to contact the Division for Historic Preservation for assistance with site specific projects to further the above policies or when development is proposed for sites of known historic or archeological significance.


To identify and protect specific scenic viewsheds in Franklin from land development.


Chapter 5.  Economy


Economic Goals, Objectives, and Policies



5-1:      To encourage the development and expansion of appropriately scaled industry and business in the Town.



Businesses and appropriate industries are an essential component of a healthy community.  Careful planning can provide a better standard of living and meaningful jobs to residents.  The designation of village centers and the construction of the necessary infrastructure for certain types of growth will enhance the ability to attract appropriate and desired commercial and industrial activity.




Industrial and commercial development should support the continuation of existing business, industry, cottage industry, and home occupations, and utilize local labor and skills.


Commercial and industrial development should not place an undue burden on the Town in terms of services and facilities required from their development or associated secondary impacts.


Clustering of related and compatible businesses and industries is encouraged and strip development along highways shall be discouraged.




To enhance and protect the vitality of Villages and population centers as important community assets and centers of commerce.


To ensure that such development serves the public good in terms of employment.


To eventually provide necessary infrastructure to accommodate more intensive land uses (such as industrial and commercial).


To provide increasingly better access to broadband and wireless telecommunications. 


To promote job opportunities with livable wages.


Chapter 6.  Community Facilities, Chapter 7. Community Services and Chapter 8. Community Utilities


Community Facilities, Services and Utilities Goals and Policies



6-1:      To anticipate and plan for future needs for public facilities based upon community growth and change.


6-2:      To maintain and enhance recreational resources and opportunities.


7-1:      To provide municipal services to meet the needs of local residents of all ages with minimal impact upon local property taxes.


8-1:      To provide public utilities to support concentrated residential, commercial, and industrial development and protect public health and water supplies in areas without municipal services.



Community facilities provide integral Town-owned community infrastructure and include the Town Clerk’s Office, Library, Town Garage, Town Offices, Town Hall, Fire Station, and Franklin Central School. Recreation takes many forms and means different things to different people.  No matter what the form, much of our recreation, as rural people, takes place out of doors.  Hunting, fishing, walking, biking, skiing, boating, or just enjoying a sunset depends on maintaining a healthy environment, open areas and the willingness of landowners to make open areas available for public use.  These areas are an essential component of rural life and help define the rural character.






Provide sufficient space and facilities to carry out essential municipal functions.


Provide a gathering place for the local population to address Town business.


Ensure adequate municipal facilities for all age groups.


Conserve Franklin’s recreational resources, discourage incompatible land uses, and protect the scenic qualities that contribute to recreation.


Require the provision of recreational areas or opportunities for proposed subdivisions.


Provide emergency services and law enforcement to protect the health, safety, and property of local residents.


Plan for needed community services within the overall land use plan.


Use extension or new construction of water and sewer systems to remedy existing problems, promote orderly and timely land development, and carry out the purpose of the land use plan.




To conserve prime recreational resources and protect their scenic qualities.


To promote efficient and functional use of existing municipal buildings and facilities.


To provide for the preservation and enhancement of major features of the environment such as mountains, waterways and water bodies, wildlife habitat and other natural resources for the use and enjoyment of this generation and those that will follow.


To promote recreational areas and facilities in convenient and reasonable locations for the use and enjoyment of all residents and visitors.


To encourage the considerate and responsible use of private property for outdoor recreation where such a use is allowed by landowners and zoning.


Chapter 9.  Energy


Energy Goals and Policies



9-1:      To plan for increased electric demand with the support of Efficiency Vermont and local electric utilities.


9-2:      To reduce annual fuel needs and fuel costs for heating structures, to foster the transition from non-renewable fuel sources to renewable fuel sources, and to maximize the weatherization of residential households and commercial establishments. 


9-3:      To hold vehicle miles traveled per capita to 2011 levels through reducing the amount of single occupancy vehicle (SOV) commute trips, increasing the amount of pedestrian and bicycle commute trips, and increasing public transit ridership. 


9-4:      To focus growth within and adjacent to the village to reduce future transportation energy demand.



It shall be the policy of the Town to support the following:



Franklin supports energy conservation efforts and the efficient use of energy across all sectors.


Franklin supports the reduction of transportation energy demand, reduction of single-occupancy vehicle use, and the transition to renewable and lower-emission energy sources for transportation.


Franklin supports patterns and densities of concentrated development that result in the conservation of energy.  This includes support of public transit connections from Franklin to other parts of the region and considering access to public transit when reviewing Act 250 applications. 


Franklin supports the development and siting of renewable energy resources in the Town that are in conformance with the goals, strategies, and mapping outlined in this plan.  This includes language in the above mapping section about the preferred size and colocation of solar facilities.  Development of generation in identified preferred locations shall be favored over the development of other sites.


Franklin supports the conversion of fossil fuel heating to advanced wood heating systems or electric heat pumps.


Franklin supports local farms and the local food system.


Chapter 10.  Transportation


Transportation Goals, Objectives, and Policies



10-1:    To provide an efficient, cost effective transportation network to meet the needs of the residents of the Town.



Safe, convenient, and affordable transportation is essential.  Public investment in transportation should be based on need, energy efficiency, and cost effectiveness.




Public and private development roads shall be built according to specified standards and approved by the appropriate Town officials.  It shall be the policy of the Town not to accept any roads into the highway system which do not meet State of Vermont and Manual on Uniform Transportation Control Devices (MUTCD) standards.


“Curb cuts” should be kept to a minimum when planning for new growth.


Road signs should be provided, where necessary, for safety and traffic control purposes.


If possible and if economically feasible through state or federal grants, sidewalks, bike-paths, or wide shouldered roads should be provided for use by non-motorized traffic.


Class 4 roads shall not be expected to serve public uses for motorized traffic and may be reclassified to legal trail status by the Selectboard in appropriate circumstances.


Natural beauty and traditional usage should be considered when carrying out road maintenance.


Citizens’ concerns on road maintenance issues should be considered whenever possible.




To maintain Town roads according to a systematic annual review of their condition and levels of usage.


To ensure training of all Town highway employees and officials relevant to their duties and positions.


Chapter 11.  Education


Education Goals and Policies



11-1:    To provide quality educational services.

11-2:    Ensure regulation of land development in Franklin does not negatively impact the availability of safe and affordable childcare.




Provide for the education of our school population without overcrowding or reduction in the quality of our education program.


Broaden access to educational and vocational training opportunities.


Chapter 12.  Natural Conditions and Features


Climate and Air Quality Goals and Policies



12-1:    To consider climatic factors and to protect the quality of the air when planning for future development.



The quality of the air we breathe is essential to continued good health and should be protected from degradation in the interest of the public good.  Climatic factors should be considered in future planning to insure the appropriate and efficient provision of housing, services, energy needs, food production and the like.




Climatic conditions prevalent in Town should be considered when planning for future growth, including development, energy needs, siting, design, and construction of roads, utilities, and services.


Activities which degrade air quality shall be discouraged.


National, state, regional and local efforts to improve and protect air quality shall be supported and encouraged.


Topography, Geology, Soils, and Earth Resources Goals, Objectives, and Policies



12-2:    To consider topography, geology, soils, and earth resources in planning and project review to allow reasonable and wise use of the land while protecting the quality of the environment, the public health, safety and welfare and the public investment.



The underlying bedrock and surficial geology soil cover, and topography are important determinants of the capability of the land to support development.  The continued availability of pure water supplies and earth and mineral resources depend on sound planning for their wise use.  Physical factors associated with slope and drainage ways directly affect the cost of development and provision of services.  Steep slopes are more expensive to develop and subject to foundation failure, septic problems, and serious soil erosion problems.  Upland areas also provide needed habitat for wildlife, and recharge our ground water resources for drinking water.


The identification and protection of these resources are extremely important to the residents of the Town.  These resources are in limited supply and can be contaminated, depleted and rendered useless by certain developments.



12-3:    To maintain and improve the quality of important soils, such as agriculture and forestry soils, when considering the future development of the Town.



The proper development and use of soils is enormously important to protect the public health and welfare, provide safe homes and services and to produce farm and forest products.  Primary agricultural and forestry soils are a finite resource, which because of their chemical and physical properties are capable of producing life-sustaining food for our use.  Once converted to other uses, they are essentially lost for food production.  Soil erosion and the conversion of important agricultural and forestry soils to urban results in a loss of productivity and self-sufficiency. 




Extraction of earth resources shall be permitted only when it has been demonstrated that the activity will not have an undue adverse impact on the Town of Franklin and its residents.  Development should avoid important earth resources. 


Intensive land development on slopes in excess of 15% shall be strongly discouraged and development on slopes between 15% and 25% must be carefully reviewed to prevent runoff, soil erosion, adequate wastewater disposal and other negative impacts on resources.  Vegetative cover should be maintained or established and erosion control measures employed wherever there is a potential for erosion.


Developments on ridges and hilltops shall be strongly discouraged and their adverse aesthetic and environmental impacts should be prevented.


Development on lands with prime agricultural soils and prime forest soils areas shall be discouraged.  Clustering or other innovative techniques shall be employed to reduce the impacts of development on agricultural and forestlands.  Farmers and landowners are encouraged to work with the planning commission to achieve this goal while meeting their own needs.




To promote the use of Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) for agriculture, and Accepted Management Practices (AMPs) for forestry to protect valuable soil resources as those practices are defined by the secretary of agriculture, food and markets or the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation. Every effort should be made to assist farmers, loggers, and landowners to learn more about and employ these practices.


To review development regulations to see if they are effective in protecting prime agricultural soils and forest soils.


Water Resources Goals, Objectives, and Policies



12-4:    To maintain, improve, and protect the quality of Franklin's water resources, including groundwater and surface water.



Abundant clean water is a basic need for public health and economic and community development.  Protecting these resources from pollution and inappropriate use is of paramount importance to the citizens of the Town and is in the public good.  Because these resources do not follow municipal boundaries, it is also important to coordinate and cooperate with adjacent municipalities to see that the resource is wisely managed.




Land development which degrades water quality shall not be allowed.


Streams, ponds, rivers, and wetlands shall be maintained in a natural state and protected from pollutants so they can provide their natural functions.  Buffer strips shall be encouraged where necessary to minimize adverse effects on the ecosystem.


Development within shoreland and stream-bank areas should maintain existing vegetation, prevent soil erosion, prevent pollution of the water body and be set back so as not to detract from the natural beauty or cause harm to the environment.


Application of lawn fertilizers and pesticides shall be discouraged along lakeshores and streambeds.  Best Management Practices are strongly encouraged as a means of protecting water resources. 


Development near surface waters shall be low density and provide adequate protection from pollution.


Development in the Well Head Protection Areas should be very low density.  The storage of hazardous wastes, chemicals, or other toxic substances is prohibited in the Well Head Protection Area.





To review development regulations to see if they are effective in protecting water resources.


To encourage educational efforts aimed at assisting all residents and visitors to employ steps they can take to improve water quality.


Fragile, Unique, and Sensitive Areas Goals and Policies



12-5:    To encourage the protection of fragile, unique and sensitive areas from the undue adverse effects and encroachments of development.



These areas serve unique functions that are very sensitive to human interference and deserve a level of protection.  They are usually unsuited for human habitation, but ideally suited for wildlife habitat and have significant ecological, recreational, scientific and scenic value.  They represent a dwindling resource, which with careful planning, this generation may be able to offer as a gift to the next.





Fragile, unique, and sensitive areas shall be protected from adverse impacts of development.  Proposed developments which might affect these resources shall be referred to the appropriate state agency for comment.


Encourage buffer strips to prevent the harmful effects of development on fragile, unique and sensitive areas.


Prohibit the draining or filling of wetlands unless in accordance with the Vermont Wetlands Regulations. 


Maintain flood hazard area regulations in accordance with the Flood Insurance Rate Maps and Studies for Compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program.


Prohibit public investment of resources that would lead to development in fragile and unique areas.




To review the development regulations to see if they are effective in protecting fragile, unique, and sensitive area resources.


Flood Resiliency Goals and Policies



12-6:    To ensure that Franklin is a flood resilient community.



Franklin is threatened by flooding and fluvial erosion.  Flood events are the most common natural disasters in Vermont.  Franklin needs to be proactive in addressing the risks posed by flooding and fluvial erosion by protecting areas susceptible to flooding and fluvial erosion.  




New development in identified flood hazard, fluvial erosion, and river corridor protection areas should be avoided. If new development is to be built in such areas, it should not exacerbate flooding and fluvial erosion.


The protection and restoration of floodplains and upland forested areas that attenuate and moderate flooding and fluvial erosion should be encouraged.


Flood emergency preparedness and response planning should be encouraged.




To review development regulations to assess if Franklin should adopt River Corridor regulations to protect the community, particularly areas of dense and historic development like Franklin Village, from fluvial erosion risk.   


To review development regulations to ensure that Franklin continues to meet the requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).


Chapter 13.  Land Use


Land Use Goals and Policies 



13-1:    To maintain Franklin’s rural character and resources by encouraging development to follow wise land use practices.




Maintain the character of existing neighborhoods and avoid potential conflicts between incompatible land uses.


Steer development away from areas where soils will not support it due to shallow depth to bedrock, instability, or high water table.


Protect public health, welfare, and safety by limiting development in the floodplain.


Protect water quality by limiting development in Wellhead Protection Areas, wetlands, and along streams.


Conserve productive lands by accommodating development in areas apart from most farming activities.


CHAPTER 3 Community Profile





Like most towns in Franklin County, Franklin's population grew rapidly from 1791 to 1870, reaching a peak population of 1,781.  From 1870 to 1960 there was a steady, slow decline in population to a low of 796.  After 1960, the population began to increase and by 1980 the population had grown steadily to 1,006.  The 2010 US Census lists Franklin's population at 1,405, a 10.8 percent change over the decade, which is virtually the same as the state projections for the period.  Franklin's population grew at a higher rate than that of the county's population and those of all the surrounding communities except Berkshire, during the 10 year period.  It also grew much faster than the State of Vermont, which only grew 2.8% from 2000 to 2010.


The American Community Survey (ACS) reports that Franklin’s population decreased between 2010 and 2014 from 1,405 to 1,240.  This decrease may be due to ACS being a survey instead of a census.  Therefore, the data contains a relatively large margin of error. Regardless, population data should be monitored to understand if Franklin is losing population or continuing to grow. 








Source: US Census and American Community Survey



According to the 2010-2014 American Community Survey, the median age in Franklin is 45.7.  This approximately a 4 year increase from data available from the 2010-2014 American Community Survey.  The median age for the State at large is 42.2.

Source: American Community Survey 2010-2014





A challenge that many Vermont towns face or will have to address in the future is how to entice younger people to stay or attract them so that they can maintain the town’s population, take over existing jobs and provide necessary local services and support to older residents as they age. Franklin’s population under 20 years old is comparable to the state, but Franklin has considerably less population than the state in the 20 to 29 demographic. 


Table 3.1 Housing Unit By Type













3 or 4 Unit



5 or More



Mobile Home






Source:  American Community Survey  2009-2013

The average number of persons per household in Franklin County has seen a slight decline since 2000 while the total number of households has increased during this same time period. This means that more units are required to shelter a similar number of people.  As long as the number of persons per household continues to decline and the population continues to increase, there is going to be a greater demand for housing units.


The Town of Franklin had 904 housing units according to the 2010-2014 ACS. 

In 2010, 868 housing units existed per the US Census.  This represents a 4 percent increase. The total number of households decreased by 5 percent during the same time period. 


The vast majority of housing units in Franklin are single family homes (78.1%), including seasonal homes.  Single family homes are followed by mobile homes (15.15%). 


Table 3.2 Housing Units by Use



Owner Occupied


Renter Occupied






Data Source:  American Community Survey 2010-2014

Owner-occupied housing units account for only one-half of the housing units in Franklin.  Seasonal housing units, such as camps, account for 40% of the total number of housing units. The high number of seasonal homes in Franklin makes sense given the existence of Lake Carmi.


Housing Affordability

According to Vermont Statute, housing is considered affordable when a household earning not more than 80 percent of the county median income or the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) median income (if a municipality is within a MSA), pays no more than thirty percent of their income on housing.   A household consists of all the people who occupy a housing unit. Franklin is located in the Burlington/South Burlington MSA. 


Housing costs and household income are both essential to calculating housing affordability.  According to the most recent American Community Survey, the residents of Franklin had a median household income of $53,333 in 2014 (a rise of 7% since 2009).  Vermont residents, as a whole, had a median household income of $54,447.  Median price of a house sold in Franklin in 2015 was $135,000, much more affordable than the state median sale price in 2015: $198,000.


Table 3.3 compares the maximum affordable mortgage for a household making the median income in Franklin and in the Burlington/South Burlington MSA.  This is then compared to the median home sale price to calculate the affordability gap.  A negative affordability gap indicates that sufficient affordable home ownership opportunities may not be available.  A positive affordability gap indicates that  housing is affordable. 

Table 3.3: Homeownership Affordability in Franklin


30% of Income

Taxes and Insurance

Income Available for Housing/Month

5% Down Payment

Maximum Affordable Mortgage

Median Sale Price for Primary Residences in Franklin (2015)

Affordability Gap

Per Year

Per Month

MSA Median Household Income









































Franklin Median Household Income









































Data Source: Median income based on 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-year estimates; taxes and insurance are an estimate;  median sale price for primary residences in Franklin was obtained from the Vermont Department of Taxes; all other figures computed by the NRPC.  Maximum affordable mortgage rates include a 4% mortgage rate.


Generally, homeownership is affordable in Franklin.  Households that make 80% to 100% of Franklin or the MSA median income should be able to afford a home at the median sale price in Franklin.  Households making less than 50% of the median income in Franklin or the MSA can’t afford a home at the median sale price in Franklin. 


Although Franklin does not have much rental housing, a similar exercise for rental affordability can completed.  Table 3.4 shows that renting in Franklin is generally affordable, even below the median household income.


Table 3.4. Renter  Affordability in Franklin



30% of Income

Income Available for Housing/Month

Median  Gross Rent

Affordability Gap


Per Year

Per Month

MSA Median Household Income





























Franklin Median Household Income





























Data Source:  Median income and rent based on 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-year estimates; all other figures computed by the NRPC


It is important to keep in mind that lower income households have to get by on tighter budgets, and because housing is a basic need that people cannot do without, high housing costs place a greater strain on lower income households than other households.  Therefore, affordable housing initiatives generally emphasize the importance of providing affordable housing to households that are at or below the median income of the area. 

To ensure continued affordable housing in Franklin, the town should continue to support creation of accessory dwelling units.  Multi-family and senior housing, both of which can provide affordable housing, shall be located in areas with convenient access to services.



Affordable housing opportunities should be available to residents that require them.  Mobile homes are important source of affordable housing.  Vermont land use law does not allow municipalities to discriminate against or segregate mobile homes.  Mobile homes in a town can provide an opportunity for those who cannot afford conventional housing.


Public infrastructure contributes to the availability of low cost housing.  In particular, sewer and water connections allow for higher densities and lower land costs by minimizing the amount of land that is necessary to accommodate new development.  Affordable housing developers often depend on these public facilities to reduce building costs.


An additional factor on affordability is transportation costs.  This issue will be discussed in the next section on employment. 



According to the American Community Survey, Franklin had a resident civilian work force of 728 persons 16 and over in 2014.  According to 2014 Longitudinal Employment-Household Dynamics commuter flow data (Figure 3.4), about 137 workers travel to Franklin for work and 7 Franklin residents remain in Franklin for work. It should be kept in mind that this data does not count federal civilian employees, uniformed military, self-employed workers, and

Source: US Census LEHD 2014


Figure 3.4 – Franklin Commuter Flow

informally employed workers.  Therefore, the number of people who live and work in Franklin can be assumed to be much greater.  The vast majority of Franklin’s workers leave town for employment.


Figure 3.5 shows municipalities to which Franklin workers commute.  The top three work destinations for Franklin workers include St. Albans City, St. Albans Town and Swanton. These municipalities are approximately a 15 to 20 minute commute from Franklin.  Additionally, many Franklin residents commute to Chittenden County.  This shows that many Franklin residents drive considerable distances and may incur considerable commuting costs.  This is an additional factor when considering the affordability of living in Franklin. 

Text Box: Source: US Census LEHD 2014



The pattern of workers leaving a Franklin for employment than staying to work is typical for the small municipalities in the region. In Franklin, 99% of residents’ jobs are outside the town.  This analysis confirms that Franklin is primarily a bedroom community with a vast majority of its workforce leaving for employment.


Figure 3.6 shows that for the employed population 16 years and older, the leading industries in Franklin were education/health care/social assistance (177 workers), manufacturing (141 workers), and retail trade (85 workers).

Text Box: Source: American Community Survey 2010-2014



Figure 3.7 shows the median household income for residents of Franklin and the surrounding areas.  The Town of Franklin had a median household income of $53,333 in 2014, according to the 2010-2014 American Community Survey.  This median income is average compared to the surrounding communities. 

Text Box: Source: American Community Survey 2010-2014


Another aspect of income is the number of families living below the poverty level.  In 1990, 7.40 percent of families in Franklin were living below the poverty level.  By 2000, this figure dropped to 5.5 percent.  However, in 2014 it was elevated again to 5.8 percent (including 10% of all children under 18 years old).   In 2014, the poverty rate in Franklin County was 10 percent and in the State of Vermont the poverty rate equaled 12 percent.  By comparison, Franklin’s poverty rate is fairly low.


Generally, low to moderate-income families pay a greater percent of their income on local taxes than do higher income families.  For example: In 2016, the combined municipal and educational tax rate for Franklin was 1.5055. Therefore, a house and property with a Grand List value of $100,000 would presently have a tax bill of $1,506.  A family with a $40,000 income would pay 3.76% of its income for that bill, whereas a family with a $60,000 income would pay only 2.51% of its income for the same bill.  The discrepancies can be even greater for elderly large landowners and in times of poor economy.


Dairy farms are another good example. Productive farms require a lot of land and equipment and operate on small margins.  When the margin, disappears or is drastically reduced, the tax impacts can be severe.  Franklin relies heavily on the property tax to fund local services, so the Town's land owners can be adversely affected by development which may require higher cost in services than they generate in taxes.  



Fiscal Conditions and the Grand List


Source: Vermont Department of Taxes



The relationship of growth to the Grand List, and therefore to the Town's tax liability requires complicated analysis and is affected by factors beyond the scope of this document.  Furthermore, Act 60 adds complexity regarding the funding of public and educational facilities and services.  Figure 3.10 above shows the change in property taxes from 2005 to 2016 (2014 and 2015 were combined due to a change in fiscal year cycles). While municipal tax rates have stayed relatively steady over time.  The educational tax rate peaked in 2011 at 1.36/$100.  The rate dropped to 1.15/$100 in 2012 and has steadily increased to 1.22/$100 in 2016. 


Population figures offer only partial picture when estimating services.  An important component is the percentage of school age children of the total population.  Also important is the percentage of working age adults and the percentage of elderly or retirement age adults. The higher the percentage of both groups, the more of a demand for services while dealing with limited resources. According to the 2010-2014 American Community Survey, Franklin has a lower proportion of young residents and a higher proportion of middle-aged and elderly residents than Franklin County. 


With Act 60, the State has retained control of collecting and distributing money for education, with towns receiving a per-pupil allocation of funds.  In order to understand and draw definite conclusions on the long term impacts of Act 60, a more in depth analysis would have to be undertaken.


Franklin has one of the highest concentrations of seasonal homes of any town in the county.  Since seasonal homes are assessed a higher tax rate than before Act 60, there is the potential for an increase in the number of requests for conversions to year-round housing.  Conversion to year-round dwellings could place greater demand on municipal services. 


For Goals, Policies and Objectives related to Population, Growth, and Fiscal Conditions and Housing, see Chapter 2.


CHAPTER 4 Scenic, Historic, and Archaeological Resources





Location and Boundaries

Franklin is located in north central Franklin County.  It is bordered on the north by the Province of Quebec, Canada, on the south by Sheldon and Highgate, on the west by Highgate and on the east by Berkshire and Enosburg (Map 4.1).



The Town is characterized by low hills and broad valleys with considerable expanses of bogs, wetlands, and water bodies. These include the county’s largest lake, Lake Carmi, sections of the Pike and Rock Rivers, and the Franklin and Lake Carmi Bogs.  The Franklin Bog is listed as an outstanding example of a large bog in the Vermont Fragile Areas Registry and is a valuable natural resource.  Due to the relatively flat landscape and poor drainage patterns, Franklin’s bog and wetland areas make it an area of great natural beauty unique in Franklin County.


Originally chartered in 1789 as Huntsburgh, the Town encompasses 19,040 acres.  The name was changed to Franklin by act of the 1817 Legislature.  Later there was another significant name change for Franklin.  The lake, which had been known as Silver Lake or Franklin Pond, was changed by Act of the Legislature to Lake Carmi.  Old ways change slowly and many people still refer to the Lake as Franklin Pond.

Town History

Franklin, originally Huntsburgh, was chartered by Governor Thomas Chittenden on March 19, 1789.  Land was granted to six men: Jonathan Hunt, Samuel Hubbard, Joseph Fay, John Bridgeman, Ebenezer Walbridge, and Ebenezer Marvin. 


Early settlers were self-sufficient farmers.  A few came and planted grain in 1789 and returned with their families to put down their own roots in 1790.  They built a gristmill to grind their wheat, corn, buckwheat, barley, and rye.  The settlers grew vegetables, gathered berries, wild fruits and nuts, and hunted game.  Settlers also raised sheep both for the wool they produced and the meat and fat they provided.  One early settler established a store where he sold nails and other iron products.  Soap was produced from animal fat and lye leached from wood ashes. 


As the Town began to take shape governmental, educational and religious needs were met.  Town government was established with the first Town Meeting held in 1793.  Lease land grants had been established to support schools and churches.  The first school began in 1795 and by 1810 there were five districts with 250 scholars.  A small church on the “Green” was built in 1827-28. 


By 1840, Franklin (the Town had been renamed in 1817) had four sawmills, one gristmill, one wool carding mill, and a starch factory.  The population had grown to 1,410.  More than 6000 sheep grazed the hillsides along with 1700 cattle.  Milk was processed on the farm.  Butter was sold to city markets while the by-products were kept on the farm to use in the household or to feed livestock.  Nearly 5000 bushel of oats, 3300 bushels of wheat and 3000 bushels of corn were grown as well as 57,870 bushels of potatoes.  Forests also contributed important products to the 1840 economy: wood for fuel, lumber for building, and 25,720 pounds of maple sugar for the sweet tooth.  Many farms had apple orchards with the number of trees varying from ten to five hundred. 


The prosperity seen in the first half of the nineteenth century initiated the construction of many fine buildings.  The Free-will Baptist Church at Brown's Corner was organized in 1832 and a brick church was built.  The church on the Green was already too small to serve all of the denominations that had built it so the Methodist built their own church in 1844.  The first of the many large frame homes that dot the countryside was built around 1840.  The Roswell Olmstead house (Carswell's) was built in 1835 and the Hubbard house (Clark's) in 1840.  Orin Manson built a hotel in 1845 and Franklin Academy opened in 1849, creating an opportunity for many scholars to attain a classical education.  A reliable water supply for the village became a reality in 1858 when the Websters leased the water rights and a pump log system was installed.  The East Franklin Meeting House was built by that community in 1860. 


The horror of war, though hundreds of miles away, was felt in the 1860's.  The call to the Civil War was answered by 127 Franklin men; 26 of them died.  The Fenian Raids following the Civil War gave Franklin a bit of unique history.  Irishmen, loyal to their country, tried twice (1865 and 1870) to invade Canada by crossing through Franklin.  Both attempts failed but a bullet-hole in the entry door at the Richard's Farm is now the door on the Franklin Historical Society log cabin and still stands as evidence. 


Franklin continued to prosper after the Civil War but its population had peaked in 1860 at 1781.  Building continued.  The Methodist replaced their church with the present one in 1864.  The first Catholic Church was built in 1874.  The Town Hall was built in 1875.  In 1880 there were ten school districts.  Franklin Center had three general stores, three blacksmith shops, a furniture store, a meat market, and a wheelwright shop.  


The first cottage was built on Franklin Pond in 1893.  Jim Hill built a store straddling the Canadian border at Morse’s Line that would call trade from far and wide from both sides of the border for many years to come.  Brown's Corner and East Franklin were thriving communities.  Franklin had four doctors and four carpenters in 1886.  An act of legislature in 1894 created Memorial Day to commemorate the Civil War and provide patriotic instruction establishing a holiday that has become ingrained in the history of Franklin. 


At the turn of the century, change was in the wind.  Franklin's independent self-sufficient status was about to change.  The State assessed Franklin, already dependent upon outside markets, a tax of twenty cents on the Grand List for road building beginning in 1892.  Improvements were made to the North Sheldon Road in 1904.  The first car in Franklin, a one-cylinder Oldsmobile, was bought by Charlie Toof in 1906.  In 1905 the Franklin Telephone Company had one hundred miles of line and 150 subscribers.  Franklin Electric Light Co. was organized in 1922 to bring electric power to the west side of Town.  A Franklin man made his mark on Vermont in 1914 when he was elected Governor. 


The Haston Library opened in 1907.  The Island Cottage was built the same year.  Two years later sidewalks were put down in the village.  In 1910, a school was opened (it housed both Franklin High School and the grade school in the village area).  The Civil War Monument was erected on the site of the old Franklin Academy.  St. Mary's Catholic Church was built in 1916. 


Franklin's history was marked by destruction in 1925 when fire destroyed the hotel and several other buildings.  Two houses, a store, and a garage were built on the site of the remains.  A hotel was established on Highgate Street to provide meals and rooms to replace the services lost in the fire. 


The 1940's cemented the achievements of the industrial age in Franklin.  Tractors began to replace horses for farm work; trucks became common for hauling farm produce; Dick Wright Ford Sales was built on the hotel lot; the Town bought its first grader; and the North Sheldon Road was blacktopped.  Meanwhile, farming continued to change with the coming of balers, choppers, and all manner of new equipment.  Many of the stone piles and stone walls that had accumulated from years of clearing the fields were buried.  Farm production increased as farmers specialized in dairy farming.  Silos, both bunkers and uprights, became common to the countryside as more corn was produced for silage and hay began to be stored as haylage.  The advent of the bulk milk tank continued the modernization of farming.  When milk was no longer accepted in milk cans some farmers quit dairying.  Other farms enlarged, keeping the land in production and continuing the long tradition of a farming community. 


The late 1950's were a time for looking back as the Franklin Historical Society was established and the Fenian Raids were reenacted in 1959.  The 1960s was the last decade for Franklin High School with Missisquoi Valley Union High School, taking its students in 1970.  Franklin Fire Department was established in the late 60's and Franklin Rescue followed in the 70's.


Franklin has undergone many changes over the years but continues to be a caring community and a good place to live.

Historic, Scenic, and Archeological Resources

Franklin has a wealth of beautiful old houses and buildings, which provides a glimpse into the past.  These homesteads are a tribute to our forbearers and offer a legacy for future generations.  The Vermont Division of Historic Preservation has conducted surveys for Vermont towns listing the historic sites and buildings.  These surveys are available at the Town Clerk’s Office and are a good source of information regarding the Town's historic assets.  


Franklin has several identified archeological sites as well as areas having a high probability of containing archeological remains.  These are primarily those of Native Americans, who used the lake and streams of Franklin extensively as hunting and fishing grounds.  The most sensitive areas are generally located along streams and around the lakeshore.  Franklin has at least one identified Indian village site and probably more.  These early sites may be as old as 12,000 years and are valuable historic and cultural resources.  If landowners find artifacts they are encouraged to contact the Vermont Department of Historic Preservation to have the site evaluated.  Much valuable information can be gained from an evaluation of these sites and they may be saved from looting by private collectors.


The Division for Historic Preservation is a statutory party to Act 250 hearings involving archeological or historic resources.  Projects requiring Act 250 review, federal permits or licenses, and any projects using federal money, which may impact historic or archeological resources have to be reviewed by the Division.  Developers and project managers should contact the Division early in the process if they suspect these resources may be impacted.  The staff will assist with developing strategies for preserving the resources, which may avoid costly delays.


The views and scenic beauty of Franklin’s landscape are greatly valued and appreciated by residents and visitors alike. Franklin’s rolling foothills with Lake Carmi nestled in between provides beautiful scenery. Scenic resources must be a consideration in planning and development, including ridgelines, foregrounds of distant views, open lands, vistas, and historic village settlements.


Poorly planned development can threaten the scenic beauty of our community. Scenic resources contribute to the local quality of life and sense of place, help to preserve and enhance property values, and are instrumental in defining the character of the Town. Future land development must be sensitive to these areas of the landscape.  Development should be properly sited to protect scenic vistas, and to avoid steep slopes and hilltops. Through the use of flexible zoning tools the town can allow creative site design that accommodates and respects scenic and natural resources.


For Goals, Policies and Objectives related to Historic and Archeological Resources see Chapter 2.


CHAPTER 5 Economy





The Local Economy


The towns that comprise the Northwest Region of Vermont have economies that encompass three elements: agriculture, business and industry, and tourism. Franklin is still largely an agricultural town even though over the past several decades it has lost most of its farms.   As a rural community, home businesses also play a strong role in the economy.  Finally, the presence of Lake Carmi State Park adds to the Town’s tourist economy.   The Community Profile (Chapter 3) provides an overview of economic data in Franklin, including income and employment statistics. 

Major Industry Sectors



Franklin, despite continued decline in the total number of farms, remains a strong agricultural community.  The Town’s farming community is ever changing and increasingly diverse.  There are few agricultural statistics available at the Town level.  Data available from Agricultural Censuses provides only county level data. 


Over the past two decades, Franklin’s agricultural economy has experienced both consolidation and diversification.  In order to remain profitable, the average Vermont dairy farm has become larger, which explains why the number of farms in Franklin has declined at a faster rate than the amount of land being farmed.


The available statistics also point to the increasing number of small farms that are diversifying the Town’s agricultural economy, which for more than a century has been largely focused on milk production.  Farmers are raising beef cattle, horses, pigs and poultry in addition to milk cows.  A range of crops is grown including corn, hay, soybeans, sunflowers, vegetables, apples, grapes and berries.


Business and Industry

Franklin has a variety of businesses that serve predominantly local needs.  These businesses provide a small amount of employment opportunities for its residents and for residents from other towns.  Home based businesses are predominant, which allow Franklin residents to work within Town rather than commuting to neighboring communities.  The advent of telecommuting, home offices, and flexible job scheduling has made working from home even more prevalent.   Improving cell service will increase the viability of home based businesses.  Data on employment of Franklin residents is located in Chapter 3. 



Many towns in the Northwest Region of Vermont depend on their natural features, their rural settings, and their history to attract tourists. The Town of Franklin is no exception to this fact.  The major draw for tourism to Franklin is Lake Carmi.  The lake provides a wide range of recreational activities. There are two public beaches on the Lake: the Town Beach at the northern end and Lake Carmi State Park at the south east corner. Lake Carmi State Park features over two miles of frontage and offers fishing swimming, camping, boating and a nature center. The State Park also encompasses the Lake Carmi Bog, which is a State designated Natural Area.


Lake Carmi State Park is near the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail and if this connection was enhanced the Town has even more potential to attract more bicycle tourists.


Border Crossing

The Town of Franklin has the oldest Customs and Border Protection (CBP) owned Land Port of Entry (LPOE) in the country, built in 1934.  This LPOE has provided the Town of Franklin with local commerce, cultural and social heritage, and mutual aid for our safety.  The Town of Franklin’s tourism has benefited from the Morses Line LPOE by providing easier access from Canada to Lake Carmi’s camps and State Park, as well as to local businesses. 

Desired Location, Type and Scale of Economic Development

Efforts should be made to promote small businesses, home occupations, and "cottage industries" in order to continue to enhance local employment opportunities. A major obstacle to small business development is the lack of high-speed internet and wireless telecommunications access. Further development of this infrastructure is needed to continue to ensure that Franklin is able to retain existing small businesses and able to grow new small businesses. Franklin Telephone Company has installed fiber optic cable to increase internet access and speeds throughout Town. However, the development of large-scale industry in Franklin remains unlikely due to the lack of public infrastructure, such as public water and wastewater.


Value added products should be encouraged as a way to support the agricultural and forest resource sectors of the economy.  Economic development should be village or community-scaled, consistent with the size and type of development permitted in the applicable zoning district. 


The importance of the agricultural sector cannot be under estimated and should be encouraged.  Agriculture requires very few municipal services yet provides a high percentage of tax revenue.  It keeps the land open and maintains our cultural and historical links with the past.

Village Designation

Franklin sought and received designation of Franklin Village as a Village Center through the State Agency of Commerce and Community Development in 2013. The designation provides private property owners with potential financial benefits.  It also achieves Franklin’s goal promoting economic growth within the historic, compact village area.  Financial benefits available to private property owners for designated village centers include:


  • 5% Vermont income tax credit for substantial rehabilitation of certified historic buildings;
  • 50% Vermont Income Tax credit for code improvements to commercial buildings;
  • Priority consideration for all grants through the state’s Municipal Planning Grant Program, and the Consolidated Plan for HUD funding including the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG);
  • The State Buildings Department will give consideration and priority to designated village center locations when leasing or constructing buildings, in consultation with the community;
  • A special assessment district in a designated village center may use funds for operating costs in addition to capital expenses.


Since designation in 2013, no property owners have applied for grant available to property owners within the designated downtown.  Franklin must do more to ensure that village property owners are aware of the potential benefits of village designation.  In the future, Franklin hopes to promote the benefits of the designation program to village property owners to enhance participation in state programs. 


For Goals, Policies and Objectives related to the Economy see Chapter 2.


CHAPTER 6 Community Facilities





Map 6.1 shows the location of community services, facilities, and utilities.

Town Clerk’s Office

The Town Clerk's Office is located in the Haston Library building and is open as posted.  The Town Clerks Office remains cramped for space, especially in the vault, where important Town records are kept.  More space will be needed in the near future. 


The Haston Library serves as the public library for the Town and offers children’s programs, summer programs, reading discussion groups, services for shut-ins and interlibrary loans.  This library was made possible when Elvira S. Haston bequeathed money to the Town for the construction of the library.  This was undertaken in 1907 and 1908 and has served the Town well over the years. 


The Haston library building was extensively renovated, including the addition of a children’s room, in 1993-1994 with funds provided by federal and state grants and tax monies provided through the Franklin tax base.

Town Hall

Franklin has a Town Hall which presently serves as a meeting place for citizen groups, the church youth group, the drama club, the Haston Library special programs, the Historical Society and adult recreation programs.  The Town Hall has universal access and can be reserved for events.  The Town was awarded a grant to preserve the stage curtain painted by Mr. Hefflon, which graces the stage of the Town Hall.  The town also received a grant for new sidewalks and snow guards on the roof. 

The Homestead and Carriage House

The Homestead and Franklin Carriage House are not-for-profit residences for seniors (age 55 and older) who are able to care for themselves.  The Homestead was built in 1993 with 19 one bedroom and four two bedroom independent living apartments (affordable and market rate).  The Homestead includes common living areas, including the FELCO Room, which is used extensively for Town and citizen meeting space.

Town Garage

The Town Garage was destroyed by fire in 2006.  It was rebuilt on the same lot in a new location.      


The most significant recreational resource in the Town is Lake Carmi.  The lake provides a wide range of recreational activities for residents and non-residents alike.  The uses are as varied as the people involved, but it must be borne in mind that the lake is a fragile resource and needs protection if we are to continue to enjoy its place in the life of the Town.


Franklin has a varied landscape and supports many different types of wildlife.  An abundance of wetlands, swamps, forestland, and open or crop land provides much needed habitat for wildlife.  This in turn provides many recreational opportunities for Town residents.  Whether you are bird watching or bird hunting, bullpout fishing or cross-country skiing, it is hard to place a value on the opportunities that the natural environment provides us.  These habitat areas are fragile and must be protected for the use and enjoyment of this and future generations.


The Town also offers other recreational opportunities for its residents, including but not limited to organized softball and baseball teams, a V.A.S.T. snowmobile trail, “pick up” basketball games at the School Gym, and exercise classes at the Town Hall.  A one mile walking trail has been added to the Franklin Central School property by the Harrison and Brendan Gates’ Eagle Scouts Projects.  In addition, open land near the village area has been purchased by the Town and may have potential recreational uses.


The Town's Class 4 roads represent a valuable recreational resource.  They are used by snowmobilers, hikers, bikers, cross-country skiers, and hunters.  Class 4 roads are subject to development pressure.  Reclassification requests which would cost the Town significant tax dollars to upgrade and maintain should be carefully considered, as should requests to reclassify them to legal trail status.  The latter absolves the Town of any obligation to maintain the road and leaves the right of way intact for future development and current recreational use. 

Other Resources

In 2005, the Town received a gift of 4 acres from the rescue squad and purchased a 20 acre parcel adjacent to it.  This land is located near the Town Garage and continues to be used for agriculture.    


For Goals, Policies and Objectives related to Community Facilities see Chapter 2.


CHAPTER 7 Community Services





Map 6.1 shows the location of community services, facilities, and utilities.

Police Protection

Franklin currently has no contracted police protection.  The Town is served by the Vermont State Police.

Fire Protection

The Fire Department has a facility in the Village which houses a 2003, 1,000 gallon pumper, a 2016, 2,000 gallon tanker/hose truck and associated firefighting equipment.  The Town has approximately twenty volunteer firefighters. In an average year, the Fire Department responds to approximately 25 to 35 calls.   In 2015, the Fire Department responded to 27 calls. 


Franklin has mutual aid agreements with all Franklin County Fire Departments and several Canadian Fire Departments, which provides adequate fire protection to virtually all areas of Town.  Service to the Village has been greatly enhanced with the addition of fire hydrants.  According to the Insurance Services Office, Franklin has an insurance rating of seven, which compares very favorably with ratings of adjacent towns (the best local rating is a six).  To improve this rating, the Town of Franklin would have to acquire a second pumper to add to its current fleet.  These ratings establish the basis for individual insurance company's rates.


Franklin has an Emergency Operations Plan (updated in spring 2016) to help organize the Town in case of an emergency.  The Plan is managed by the Emergency Management Director, which is appointed by the Selectboard.    


The Fire Department and First Response are not currently seeking an alternative location; however, space is limited.  As there is a required need for storage, a cargo container was purchased to house non-emergency equipment and supplies.  This allows for more room in the building for meetings, training and storage of necessary equipment and supplies as needed.  

Rescue and Health Care Services

Franklin Rescue provides emergency first response services to the residents of Franklin. Franklin Rescue discontinued ambulance service in recent years. Ambulance services are provided by Enosburgh Ambulance Service. 


The closest hospital to Franklin is the Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans.  NMC is a 70-bed community hospital with an active medical staff of more than 75 physicians spanning 22 medical specialties. NMC cares for approximately 2,000 inpatients each year, performs over 3,000 surgeries, delivers over 450 babies, and treats over 27,000 patients in the Emergency Department.  NMC offers a comprehensive array of diagnostic and rehabilitative services. 


NMC operates the Northwestern Walk-In Clinic in Georgia.  There is a private walk-in clinic located in St. Albans Town near Exit 20. Northern Tier Center for Health (NOTCH) has doctor’s offices in Enosburg Falls, Swanton, Richford and St. Albans.  The nearest trauma center is at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington. 

Solid Waste Disposal

The Town of Franklin has adopted a Northwest Vermont Solid Waste Management District.  The District has a Solid Waste Plan and supports the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) State Solid Waste Goals.


It is the responsibility of individual households to contract with a private solid waste hauler for curbside trash pick-up or to transport solid waste directly to a drop-off location or transfer station. The closest transfer station accepting solid waste from the Town of Franklin is the Highgate Transfer Station.


For goals policies and objectives related to community services, see Chapter 2.

CHAPTER 8 Community Utilities





See Map 6.1 for the location of community services, facilities, and utilities.

Water Supply Systems

The Town of Franklin Water District serves the drinking water needs of Franklin Village.  The source is the Webster Spring, which has an estimated flow of 54 GPM (according to engineers reports) and all tests of water quality show the supply to be very good.  Water is piped from the source to a 200,000-gallon reservoir and is distributed to the Village by means of 12", 10", 8”, and 2" PVC water mains.  The reservoir has a 10-day supply and fire protection needs have been enhanced with the placement of nine hydrants.  The system serves approximately 90 hook-ups and is billed according to a unit system, with 115 units being billed. 


The Town of Franklin Water District should consider developing a written allocation ordinance to deal with issues of and effects of additional hook-ups to the system and requests for extensions of water lines.  The District instated a moratorium on new hookups in 1998. 


The Town should examine options for long term protection of this valuable water supply.  There are a number of possibilities including low-density land use control, purchase of development rights, and/or outright purchase of surrounding land.  The quality and quantity of this water supply is worth protecting.  The Town presently owns one acre around the spring site and has a deeded easement around part of the reservoir.


The State of Vermont has delineated two source protection areas for public water supplies, the Webster Spring and the Hubbard Spring.  These mapped areas are defined as follows: "An area delineated around a ground or surface water supply in which contaminants are reasonably likely to move.”  The Town of Franklin Water District does not currently use the Hubbard spring for drinking water due to water quality problems (though the Town still claims water rights).  The other mapped area covers the Webster spring, and was based on such factors as topography, soil types, and the watershed boundaries. 


The present land use in source protection areas consists of forested areas and pastured areas, which probably have little development potential.  According to Natural Resource Conservation Service soil maps, on-site sewer potential for the vast majority of the area is severely limited.  Access to this area is also limited, though there is a Class 4 road running through the middle of the area.  Any proposal for development in the source protection area must be reviewed rigorously for potential impacts on the water supply.  Overall density for this area must be very low in order to protect this valuable resource.

Wastewater Disposal/Sewage Systems

Sewage disposal in Franklin is provided by private on-site disposal fields.  Due to the Town's poor soils, this presents many problems for adequate and safe disposal options.  Soil testing is very important to assure that sewage does not contaminate homeowners’ or adjacent water supplies.


A critical need of the Franklin Village district is a municipal sewer system.  Many of the residences currently discharge wastewater by means of inadequate and potentially dangerous septic systems.  This problem needs to be addressed by the Town before soil contamination becomes a serious public health problem.  In addition, while sewage is not thought to be a major factor in phosphorus loading and weed growth around Lake Carmi, there are considerable concerns about health risks from fecal coliform bacteria.  A "community" septic system for the camps around the lake might be an option for improved water quality.  Storage tanks for wastewater and off-site disposal fields are also a possibility.


The Franklin Watershed Committee (FWC) and the Franklin Selectboard worked collaboratively to receive funding from the Agency of Natural Resources, Wastewater Engineering Facility, for a Wastewater Feasibility Study.  A committee was formed of members of the FWC, Selectboard, Lake Carmi Campers Association, Planning Commission, and lakeshore and village residents to create a charter and oversee the project.  The committee selected Stone Environmental and Green Mountain Engineering to complete the study.  


The goals of the assessment were to identify 1) wastewater capacity, 2) available areas for potential wastewater siting and 3) options for wastewater disposal particularly those suited for small rural communities.


The final report states that “despite challenging soil and site conditions, a variety of water conservation, wastewater source reduction, and wastewater system replacement options can be employed to improve stewardship and to reduce phosphorus levels entering Lake Carmi from wastewater systems near the lakeshore.”[1]  The report provides several alternatives for addressing wastewater issues on Lake Carmi and in Franklin Village. 


For Goals, Policies and Objectives related to community utilities see Chapter 2.


CHAPTER 9 Energy




Enhanced Energy Plan

The intent of this section is to meet the municipal determination standards for enhanced energy planning enabled in 24 V.S.A. 4352.  The purpose of enhanced energy planning is to further regional and state energy goals, including the goal of having 90% of energy used in Vermont come from renewable sources by 2050 (90 x 50 goal), and the following:

A.      Vermont's greenhouse gas reduction goals under 10 V.S.A. § 578(a);

B.      Vermont's 25 by 25 goal for renewable energy under 10 V.S.A. § 580;

C.      Vermont's building efficiency goals under 10 V.S.A. § 581;

D.     State energy policy under 30 V.S.A. § 202a and the recommendations for regional and municipal energy planning pertaining to the efficient use of energy and the siting and development of renewable energy resources contained in the State energy plans adopted pursuant to 30 V.S.A. §§ 202 and 202b (State energy plans); and

E.      The distributed renewable generation and energy transformation categories of resources to meet the requirements of the Renewable Energy Standard under 30 V.S.A. §§ 8004 and 8005;


A positive determination of compliance with the requirements of enhanced energy planning, as provided by the Regional Planning Commission, will enable Franklin to achieve “substantial deference” instead of “due consideration” in Section 248 applications for energy generation facilities (ex. wind facilities, solar facilities, hydro facilities, etc.) under Criteria (b)(1)-Orderly Development.  In short, this means that Franklin will have a greater “say” in Certificate of Public Good proceedings before the Vermont Public Utilities Commission about where these facilities should or should not be located in the community.

To receive a positive determination of energy compliance, an enhanced energy plan must be duly adopted, regionally approved, and must contain the following information:

A.      An analysis of current energy resources, needs, scarcities, costs, and problems.

B.      Targets for future energy use and generation.

C.      “Pathways,” or implementation actions, to help the municipality achieve the established targets.

D.     Mapping to help guide the conversation about the siting of renewables. 


This chapter will include the required analysis, targets, and mapping.  The “pathways,” or actions, have been included in the implementation section of the municipal plan. 

Energy Resources, Needs, Scarcities, Costs and Problems

The following subsection reviews each energy sector of energy use (thermal, transportation, electricity) and generation in Franklin.  

Thermal Energy

An estimate of current residential thermal energy demand in Franklin, based on data from the American Community Survey (ACS 2011-2015), is shown in Table 9.1.  The data shows that 62.3% of households in Franklin depend on fuel oil for home heating.  Fuel oil and wood sources are estimated to be the primary heating source for 88.8% of homes in Franklin.  There is no access to natural gas in Franklin. 

The Franklin Elementary school has a wood pellet heating system that is not currently in use, but could be used in the future. Several Town-owned properties have undergone an energy audit in the last few years.  The library has undergone weatherization efforts in recent years including the installation of new windows.      

Table 9.1 -  Current Franklin Residential Thermal Energy Use

Fuel Source

Franklin Households (ACS 2011-2015)

Franklin % of Households

Franklin - Households Square Footage Heated

Municipal BTU (in Billions)

Natural Gas















Fuel Oil

























No Fuel










Estimates for commercial and industrial thermal energy use are more difficult to calculate.  An estimate of total commercial energy use (thermal and electricity) is provided in Table 9.2 based on data from the Vermont Department of Labor (VT DOL) and the Vermont Department of Public Service (VT DPS). According to NRPC, it is assumed that the majority of this energy use, 11 billion BTU per year, is likely to be for thermal energy needs. 





Table 9.2 - Current Franklin Commercial Energy Use


Commercial Establishments
 in Franklin (VT DOL)

Estimated Thermal Energy BTUs
 per Commercial Establishment/year
(in Billions) (VT DPS)

Estimated Thermal Energy BTUs
 by Commercial Establishments in Franklin/year  (in Billions)

Municipal Commercial Energy Use





Electricity Use

An estimate of current electricity use in Franklin is shown in Table 9.3.  This data is from 2016 and is available from Efficiency Vermont.  Franklin electricity use has increased since 2014 from 7.4 million kWh to about 7.8 million kWh in 2016.  This increase in use has come mostly from commercial and industrial accounts according to Efficiency Vermont. The average residential usage per household has increased from 5,594 kWh per year to 5,708 kWh per year between 2014 and 2016.  Franklin’s average residential usage in 2016 was about 1,400 kWh lower than the average regional residential kWh use.  Some of Franklin’s lower average residential usage may be due to the large number of seasonal residential homes in Franklin that may not use electricity during the winter season.  

Franklin is served by two electric utilities. Vermont Electric Cooperative serves the majority of Town and Enosburg Falls Electric Department serves the southeast corner of Franklin.

Table 9.3 -  Current Franklin Electricity Use

Use Sector

Current Electricity Use in Franklin - 2016
 (Efficiency Vermont)

Current Electricity Use (in Billion BTUs)

Residential (kWh)



Commercial and Industrial (kWh)



Total (kWh)





Table 9.4 contains an estimate of transportation energy use in Franklin.  It’s estimated that Franklin residents drive approximately 12.7 million miles per year and spend about $1.6 million on transportation fuel expenses a year.  This calculation does not include expense for commercially owned and operated vehicles.   

Electricity Generation

There is currently .38 MW of electricity generation capacity from renewable generation facilities in Franklin.  This capacity results in approximately 989 MWh of electricity generation per year. This is roughly equal to the annual electricity use of about 147 households in Vermont

Table 9.4 - Current Franklin Transportation Energy Use

Transportation Data

Municipal Data

Total # of Passenger Vehicles (ACS 2011-2015)


Average Miles per Vehicle (VTrans)


Total Miles Traveled




Realized MPG (2013 - VTrans 2015 Energy Profile)


Total Gallons Use per Year


Transportation BTUs (Billion)




Average Cost per Gallon of Gasoline in 2016 (NRPC)


Gasoline Cost per Year


based on information available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (558 kWh per VT household per month).

Table 9.5 organizes information about existing generation in Franklin by type of facility.  Map 9.3 shows the location of all electricity generators in Franklin with a capacity greater than 15 kW.

Table 9.5 – Existing Renewable Electricity Generation in Franklin

Generation Type


















Total Existing Electric Generation



Some parts of Franklin have good access to electricity transmission lines and three-phase distribution lines.  These areas include Franklin Village and along VT Route 236. These types of lines are used to transmit large quantities of electricity and are needed to serve large industrial users and commercial centers.  Access to this type of infrastructure may make development of renewable energy facilities easier and more cost-effective than in other surrounding communities with less existing grid infrastructure.  Map 9.2 shows the electricity transmission and three-phase distribution infrastructure in Franklin.  Access to renewable generation resources, such as solar and wind, will be addressed below in the mapping section.

Targets for Use and Generation

Northwest Regional Planning Commission worked with the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) and the Vermont Department of Public Service in 2016 to develop regional targets for future energy use and future renewable electricity generation to meet the State of Vermont’s 90 x 50 goal.  The targets developed by NRPC and VEIC represent only one scenario that would meet this goal.  There may be many different ways that would also enable Vermont to achieve the 90 x 50 goal.  For more information about the regional targets, please see the Northwest Regional Energy Plan (

Tables 9.6, 9.7 and 9.8 show municipal targets for future energy use for Franklin by sector (totals are cumulative).  These municipal targets are based on regional targets that have been disaggregated. These specific targets are required per the Department of Public Service Determination Standards for municipalities.

One thermal target for Franklin in 2050 is to have 88% of structures be heated by renewable sources.  Much of this transition to renewable sources is likely to come in the form of electric heat pumps as the primary heating source for single family homes as the technology becomes more readily available and affordable.  The target does not rely on further conversions to wood heating due to the high number of wood heating systems that already exist in Franklin.  There are also high targets for the weatherization of residential households and commercial structures (78% and 73% respectively) in 2050. 

Table 9.6 - Thermal Targets

Thermal Targets




Percent of Total Heating Energy From
Renewable Sources - Heating (BTUs)




New Efficient Wood Heat Systems (in units)




New Heat Pumps (in units)




Percentage of municipal households to be weatherized




Percentage of commercial establishments to be weatherized





The transportation energy targets for Franklin are similarly ambitious.  By 2050, 87.8% of transportation energy is targeted to come from renewable sources.  This will primarily be done through conversion to electric vehicles from fossil fuel vehicles for light-duty, passenger vehicles.  However, it will also mean conversion of heavy-duty vehicles from diesel to biodiesel sources.  Biodiesel technology and infrastructure will certainly need to advance and evolve in order to meet this target. 

Table 9.7 - Transportation Targets

Transportation Targets




Percent of Total Transportation Energy from
Renewable Sources - Transportation (BTUs)




Electric Vehicles




Biodiesel Vehicles





Targets for electricity use are more complex to interpret.  Electricity use is targeted to double by 2050 (Table 9.8).  This will likely be driven by conversions to electric heat pumps and electric vehicles. These consumer changes will cause electricity use to grow.  At the same time, total energy use (energy, not electricity) will become more efficient.  The reason behind electricity use becoming more efficient is because electric cars and electric heating sources use energy more efficiently than other energy sources, such as fossil fuels. 

Table 9.8 - Electricity Targets

Electricity Targets




Electricity Use Growth (Efficiency and Conservation in BTUs)





Table 9.9 shows the targets for new renewable electricity generation in Franklin for 2025, 2035, and 2050.  All new wind, solar, hydro, and biomass electricity generation sites will further progress towards achieving the generation targets (in MWh).  Given the difficulty of developing additional hydro generation, and the constraints upon wind development, it is likely that solar generation will need to be a substantial component of meeting these renewable generation targets.  Meeting the generation targets will take considerable effort over the next 30 to 35 years.  The 2050 generation target (19,719 MWh) is about twenty times the current generation capacity (989 MWh) within the Town of Franklin.

Table 9.9 – New Renewable Electricity Generation Targets

Renewable Generation Targets




Total Renewable Generation Target (in MWh)





Franklin has sufficient land to meet the above generation targets based on mapping completed by NRPC which indicates that Franklin has access to the generation capacity outlined in Table 9.10.  This generation capacity was calculated using the “base” layers for solar and wind.  For an explanation of what constitutes a “base” layer, please see the mapping subsection below.  The hydro potential is based on a study commissioned by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources completed in 2008. 

Table 9.10 - Renewable Electricity Generation Potential




Rooftop Solar



Ground-mounted Solar









Biomass and Methane






Total Renewable Generation Potential




Franklin supports NRPC’s position regarding “commercial” and “industrial” wind facilities. The NRPC Regional Plan finds that the construction of new “industrial” or “commercial” wind facilities within the region does not conform to the Regional Plan (NRPC considers any wind facility with a tower height (excluding blades) in excess of 100 feet tall to be considered an “industrial” or “commercial” wind facility).

Text Box: Figure 9.1 – Ground Mounted Solar Potential in FranklinElectricity potential from biomass and methane sources is not estimated. This is due to a variety of factors including insufficient information on which to create estimates. Franklin encourages the use of biomass and methane sources for electricity and thermal generation, especially on farms.

Mapping Energy Resources and Constraints

Franklin has incorporated maps provided to them by NRPC. These maps show data as required by the Department of Public Service Determination Standards, including access to energy resources and constraints to renewable development, and are a required element of enhanced energy planning. All maps may be found at the end of this chapter.

The intent of the maps is to generally show those areas in Franklin that may be good locations, or may be inappropriate locations, for future renewable generation facilities.  However, it is important to note that the maps are a planning tool and do not precisely indicate locations where siting a facility is necessarily acceptable. When a generation facility is actually proposed, the presence of all natural resource constraints on site shall be verified as a part of the application. 

Mapping Methodology

Spatial data showing the location of energy resources formed the basis of the maps developed by NRPC.  This is the data that shows where there is solar, wind, hydro, and biomass “potential.”

“Known” and “possible” constraints were subsequently identified on the maps.  Known constraints are conservation resources that shall be protected from all future development of renewable generation facilities. Possible constraints are conservation resources that shall be protected, to some extent, from the development of renewable generation facilities. The presence of possible constraints on land does not necessarily impede the siting of renewable generation facilities on a site. Siting in these locations could occur if impacts to the affected possible constraints are mitigated, preferably on-site.   

A full list of known and possible constraints included on the maps is located in Table 9.11.   The known constraints and possible constraints used to create the maps include constraints that are required per the State Determination Standards from the Department of Public Service and regional constraints that were selected by NRPC.  No land use areas in Franklin were included as regional possible constraints. 

Solar and Wind

The solar and wind maps show both “base” and “prime” areas.  Base areas are areas with generation potential, yet may contain possible constraints.  Prime areas are areas that have generation potential that do not contain known or possible constraints.  Areas that do not contain generation potential, and areas that contain a known constraint, are shown as white space on the map. 

Franklin has abundant solar resources.  Many of the areas with solar potential are considered “base” solar, most commonly because of the existence of agricultural soils.  The solar map indicates a general concentration of prime solar areas between Franklin Village and Lake Carmi.  There is another concentration of prime solar to the north of Franklin Bog.  Franklin has identified the following preferred locations for solar generation facilities: rooftops, parking lots, landfills, State-owned property, Town-owned property, and School District-owned property.  Brownfield sites located outside of the village are also considered preferred locations. 

Franklin has a strong preference for solar facilities that have less than 5 MW in generation capacity.  This preference is a reflection of the community’s dedication to preserving the aesthetic and rural qualities of Franklin by restricting the geographic size of solar facilities.  In addition, Franklin prefers that solar facilities greater than 150 kW in generation capacity to be sufficiently separated from other similarly sized solar facilities to “break up” the visual impact of two or more solar facilities located next to each other.  All solar facilities shall include proper screening.  Franklin hopes to adopt a municipal solar screening ordinance in the near future. 

There generally isn’t much land available in Franklin that has base and prime wind resources.  These areas are generally concentrated to the north of Franklin Village and east of VT Route 236. 

Hydro and Biomass

The biomass map is somewhat similar to the solar and wind maps.  The biomass map also displays “base” and “prime” areas.  However, these categories are not necessarily indicative of generation potential. They instead indicate areas of contiguous forest that may be used for the harvesting of woody biomass for use in either thermal or electric generation.

The hydro map is unique from the other types of generation maps.  It shows existing dam sites used for electricity generation.  It also shows existing dam sites that are not used for electricity generation, but could be retrofitted to provide generation capacity.  Data about these dams comes from a study commissioned by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.  The hydro map also shows some known and possible constraints that could impact the redevelopment of some dam sites. 

Franklin has two existing dam sites.  Both are privately owned and do not currently produce electricity.  However, both have the possibility to generate electricity in the future. 


Achieving the 90 x 50 goal, and the other energy goals in state statute, will be difficult.  Franklin is committed to playing its part in working towards accomplishing these goals and in creating a more sustainable, less costly, and more secure energy future. 

Table 9.11 – Mapping Constraints

Solar, Wind and Biomass Maps - Known Constraints




Confirmed and unconfirmed vernal pools

There is a 600-foot buffer around confirmed or unconfirmed vernal pools.


State Significant Natural Communities and Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Species

Rankings S1 through S3 were used as constraints. These include all of the rare and uncommon rankings within the file. For more information on the specific rankings, explore the methodology for the shapefile.


River corridors

Only mapped River Corridors were mapped.  Does not include 50 foot buffer for streams with a drainage area less than 2 square miles.


National wilderness areas



FEMA Floodways



Class 1 and Class 2 Wetlands



Designated Downtowns, Designated Growth Centers, and Designated Village Centers

These areas are the center of dense, traditional
development in the region.  This constraint does not apply to roof-mounted solar within such designated areas. The inclusion of this resource as a regional constraint is consistent with goals and policies of the Northwest Regional Plan.


FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) special flood hazard areas

Special flood hazard areas as digitized by the
NRPC were used (just the 100-year flood plain -500-year floodplain not mapped). The inclusion of this resource as a regional constraint is consistent with goals and policies of the Northwest Regional Plan.


Ground and surface waters drinking protection areas

Buffered Source Protection Areas (SPAs) are
designated by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). SPA boundaries are approximate but are conservative enough to capture the areas most susceptible to contamination. The inclusion of this resource as a regional constraint is consistent with goals and policies of the Northwest Regional Plan.


Vermont Conservation Design Highest Priority Forest Blocks

The lands and waters identified here are the
areas of the state that are of highest priority for maintaining ecological integrity. Together, these lands comprise a connected landscape of large and intact forested habitat, healthy aquatic and riparian systems, and a full range of physical features (bedrock, soils, elevation, slope, and aspect) on which plant and animal natural communities depend. The inclusion of this resource as a regional constraint is consistent with goals and policies of the Northwest Regional Plan. (Source: ANR)


Public water sources

 A 200-foot buffer is used around public drinking
water wellheads. The inclusion of this resource as a regional constraint is consistent with goals and policies of the Northwest Regional Plan.


National Natural Landmark – Chazy Fossil Reef

The Chazy Fossil Reef in Isle La Motte has been
designated a National Natural Landmark by the US Department of Interior.


Municipal Conservation Land Use Areas

Conservation Land Use Districts, as designated
in municipal plans, that include strict language that strongly deters or prohibits development have been included as a regional known constraint. The inclusion of this resource as a regional constraint is consistent with the goals and policies of the Northwest Regional Plan.  There are no municipal conservation land use areas in Franklin included in this category.  


Solar, Wind and Biomass Maps - Possible Constraints




Protected lands

 This constraint includes public lands held by agencies with conservation or natural resource oriented missions, municipal natural resource holdings (ex. Town forests), public boating and fishing access areas, public and private educational institution holdings with natural resource uses and protections, publicly owned rights on private lands, parcels owned in fee by non-profit organizations dedicated to conserving land or resources, and private parcels with conservation easements held by non-profit organizations.


Deer wintering areas

Deer wintering habitat as identified by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.


Hydric soils

Hydric soils as identified by the US Department of Agriculture.


Agricultural soils

Local, statewide, and prime agricultural soils are considered.


Act 250 Agricultural Soil Mitigation Areas

Sites conserved as a condition of an Act 250 permit.


Class 3 wetlands

Class 3 wetlands in the region have been identified have been included as a Regional Possible Constraint. The inclusion of this resource as a regional constraint is consistent with goals and policies of the Northwest Regional Plan.


Municipal Conservation Land Use Areas

Conservation Land Use Districts, as designated in municipal plans, that include strict language that deters, but does not prohibit development, have been included as a regional possible constraint. There are no municipal conservation land use areas in Franklin included in this category.  


Hydro Map - Known Constraints




National scenic and recreational rivers

Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers.


Hydro Map - Possible Constraints




“303d” list of stressed waters



Impaired waters



State Significant Natural Communities and Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Species

Rankings S1 through S3 were used as constraints. These include all of the rare and
uncommon rankings within the file. For more information on the specific rankings, explore the methodology for the shapefile.





Table 9.12 - Renewable Electricity Generating Facilities in Franklin (November 2017)

Renewable Type

Sub Category



CPG Number



Capacity (kW)


Anaerobic Digester

Riverview Farm

4654 Middle Road



Vermont Electric Coop



Ground-mounted PV

Dale & Catheline Papazoni

4120 Middle Road


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Ground-mounted PV: Tracker

Doug & Pam Bradford

507 Richard Rd


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Roof-Mounted PV

Gary & Susan Geran

5600 State Park Rd


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Roof-Mounted PV

J.C. Wagner

1350 Towle Neighborhood Road


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Roof-Mounted PV

James Mullen

1090 Riley Road


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Roof-Mounted PV

Janet Norcross

35 Square Road


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Roof-Mounted PV

John Ho

1212 Dewing Rd


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Roof-Mounted PV

Michael Cutting

4746 State Park Rd


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Ground-mounted PV

Scott Korhonen & Corinna Stanley

1651 Dewing Road


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Roof-Mounted PV

Susan Stanley

2334 Towle Neighborhood Rd


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Ground-mounted PV

Willam and Susan Mayo

331 Sandy Bay Rd


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Ground-mounted PV

Devin Bachelder

3885 North Sheldon Road


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Ground-mounted PV

Howmars Farm

280 Beaver Meadow Rd


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Ground-mounted PV

James Dewing

5032 State Park Road


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Ground-mounted PV

Seth Kittell

3604 North Sheldon Road


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Roof-Mounted PV

Steven Plouff

1087 Colton Road


Net Metered

Enosburg Falls Water & Light Department



Roof-Mounted PV

Marcy Stefaniak

3459 Rice Hill Rd


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Roof-Mounted PV

Green Dream Farm

149 Bliss Road


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Roof-Mounted PV

Jason Vaillancourt

138 Gallup Rd


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop



Small Wind

Scott Korhonen & Corinna Stanley

1651 Dewing Road


Net Metered

Vermont Electric Coop


Source: Vermont Department of Public Services


Franklin Energy Maps


For Goals, Policies and Objectives related to the Energy see Chapter 2.


CHAPTER 10 Transportation





Transportation Planning

Transportation planning at the State, Regional, and local levels has two goals. 


The first goal is to ensure that people and goods are able to move freely, safely and efficiently using all modes of transportation.  This includes highways, local roads, airports, bicycle paths, pedestrian routes, and public transit.  Transportation efficiency includes consideration of energy use, economic and social costs, and time.  People and goods move with the assistance of more than one mode, therefore, transportation planning should consider how the different modes of transportation could complement each other.


The second purpose of transportation planning is to help guide growth in appropriate locations identified through land-use planning.  Growth management can be assisted by directing construction or transportation improvements in coordination with local and regional plans into areas favorable for growth and away from environmentally sensitive areas. 


In 1991, the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VAOT) decentralized its planning process in order to provide for more local and regional participation. The Regional Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) was then formed to help in the planning process.  The TAC serves in an advisory role to the Region’s Board of Commissioners.  Each of the Region’s municipalities has the option to have a representative on the committee.

Town Road System

Franklin is served by a network of paved, gravel, and dirt roads, ranked by the Town and VAOT according to a statewide road classification system as Class 1-4 (Table 10.1).


The location of roads, number of miles, classification, road surface type, etc. can be found on the transportation map (Map 10.1).


The Town Road system is divided as follows:


Table 10.1. Franklin road System and Mileage

Road Class

Class Code

AOT Mileage

Class 2 Town Highway



Class 3 Town Highway



Class 4 Town Highway



State Highway



Roads not to standard




Grand Total





Total Town Highway (excluding Class 4)


Total Town Highway (including Class 4)


Total Town Highway (including Class 4 and legal trails)


Total State, Federal and Interstate


Source VAOT 2015


Roads are classified according to their use and ability to carry traffic.  The State and Federal Governments give aid to Towns for the upkeep of roads based on these classifications.  The State does not grant any aid to Class 4 highways.  It is important to insure that development, which occurs on Class 4 Highways and/or development roads, does not place a burden on the taxpayers of the Town.  A written Road Policy is an effective method of dealing with these issues.  It is recommended that the Town adopt a road policy and that it not approve any roads which do not meet State of Vermont Highway Standards.


Portions of two state highways, Route 120 and 236 serve the Town of Franklin.  Routes 120, 236, 235, and 207 are considered arterial highways and Town Highway #3 may now also be considered an arterial highway because it is now paved.  An arterial highway serves as a regional or statewide link between population centers and a collector serves to connect residential areas with the arterials.  To insure the safe and easy flow of traffic, both of these road types should have as few “curb cuts” as possible.


The State of Vermont has an interest in preserving the rural nature and beauty of back roads.  There is a program called the Better Roads Program through which grant monies are available.  Preserving dirt roads helps to ensure the rural nature, natural beauty, and ecology of our Town.


Starting in 2018, the State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) will require a Municipal Roads General Permit for municipal roads. The permit is required per the Vermont Clean Water Act and the Lake Champlain Phase I Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).  According to ANR, “municipalities will implement a customized, multi-year plan to stabilize their road drainage system.” Each plan will include bringing road drainage systems up to basic maintenance standards and the installation of corrective measure to reduce erosion to meet TMDL or other water quality restoration efforts.  Franklin’s priority should begin to plan and budget for upgrades to town roads to meet the requirements of this upcoming permitting requirement. 

Public Transportation

The Franklin County State Airport in Highgate is the closest airport to Franklin and is the center of civilian aviation in the County.  Larger interstate and international flights are available at the Burlington International Airport and at Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, Quebec. Amtrak passenger rail service is available in St. Albans.


Passenger bus service is available on Vermont Transit Lines via Burlington with service to Hanover and Albany. Green Mountain Transportation Authority (GMTA) has developed a transit network (vans, mini-buses) for residents of Franklin County on a shuttle service between St. Albans and Richford (this route does not directly serve Franklin).  Rides can be coordinated by calling GMTA.  In addition, the service currently coordinates ride-share, Medicaid, and elderly transportation services.  There are no port facilities in Franklin.

Other Transportation Systems

In 2010, new sidewalks were installed around Square Road and to the Franklin Central School with funding from a Safe Routes to School grant for $250,000.  In addition, new sidewalks were installed from the Haston Library south to the Franklin Homestead Crosswalk with funding from the FELCO foundation.  There is a need to extend sidewalks to the south end of the Village and extensive repairs for sidewalks in the north end of the Village.


The Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail is located south of Franklin.  The Rail Trail runs from St. Albans to Richford and parallels VT 105.  In addition, a network of Canadian road biking routes can be accessed just north of the border at Morses Line.  The proximity of Franklin to the Rail Trail and Canadian bike routes, combined with the gentle rolling terrain and Lake Carmi, presents opportunities for the Town to connect to and be part of a larger bicycling system.  Lake Champlain Bikeways has identified recommended bicycling routes in Franklin, taking advantage of the beautiful scenery and Lake Carmi.  One way to encourage cyclists to visit Franklin would be through the installation of a bike path from Dodd’s Corners to the Village.  With this addition, Franklin could connect with a wider recreational network, providing health benefits and an economic boost to the community.


For Goals, Policies and Objectives related to the Transportation see Chapter 2.


CHAPTER 11 Education





Local Education

The Franklin Central School, which serves Kindergarten through Grade 6, was built in 1992 and has a capacity of 150 students. As of August, 2016, there are 121 students at the Central School.  Current enrollments have been comfortably below capacity for many years.  The mission of the Franklin Central School is to educate our children to become self-reliant and socially responsible individuals who will respect themselves, their community and the world around them.  A Gold Medallion School is awarded by the Vermont Business Roundtable to the top elementary school in the State of Vermont based upon academic achievement and overall school quality.  Franklin Central School was named a Gold Medallion School in 2002 and was a finalist in 1999 and 2005.  In 1999, 2003 and 2004, it was named a Medallion School.  The Franklin Central School continues to provide an outstanding educational experience with students performing at or above state averages.  In 2011, Franklin was named by the Vermont Department of Education as one of 14 “effective” schools with high achievement for all students.  The “effective” schools were identified by examining the test scores of students who had been at the school for at least three years.  Map 6.1 shows the location of Franklin Central School.


Grades 7 through 12 attend Missisquoi Valley Union High School and Middle School (MVU), located on the Swanton - Highgate town line.  From Franklin, there are 64 high school students and 42 middle school students that attend MVU (106 total).  The number of students that attend high schools or middle schools located outside of the district is 6.


The cost of maintaining a school is shared between the Town, the State, and the Federal Government.  The local share of school cost is currently raised through property taxes and comprises the largest fraction of municipal property tax bills. 

Other Educational Facilities

The closest colleges are located either in or around Burlington, in St. Albans or in Johnson.  The Community College of Vermont (CCV) offers courses and degree programs in both Burlington and St. Albans.  The CCV is part of the Vermont State College System and has links to other higher education facilities around the State.  The University of Vermont, St. Michael's College, and Champlain College are all located in the Burlington area.  Johnson College is located in Johnson.  Post-secondary education can also be pursued online.  Vocational education is offered at the Cold Hollow Center in Enosburg Falls and also at Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans.  These centers offer a wide range of programs for high school students, as well as providing evening classes for adults. 


Childcare can be a growing concern for existing and prospective families, whether it means finding quality services or securing the costs of services.  High quality, available childcare is a critical component supporting a stable workforce.


The provision of child care services is not strictly a local issue. For example, it might be more convenient or practical for a Franklin resident working in Saint Albans to use child care services there or along the way in Sheldon, and vice versa.  Many families that live outside Franklin use child care services in the town if it is convenient to their place of employment.  According to state data, there are currently 33 registered childcare homes and 6 licensed providers within 10 miles of Franklin. 


According to a report released by the Vermont Department of Children and Families in May 2016, a “middle-income” family with two incomes and two children spends between 28% to 40% of their income on childcare. This equals approximately $19,000 per year - more than the coast of full-time, in-state tuition at a Vermont State College.  Despite these costs, 65% of infants and 26% of toddlers in Franklin County do not have access to regulated child care programs.  The report also points out that 98% of infants and 94% of toddlers in Franklin County do not have access to high quality (4 or 5 star programs in state recognition program) child care programs. 


For Goals, Policies and Objectives related to the Education see Chapter 2




CHAPTER 12 Natural Conditions and Features




Climatic Conditions

Climate is an important consideration in the planning process because it affects such things as bedrock weathering, soil development and erosion, plant growth, air quality, road maintenance and winter heating bills.


Franklin, located between the Champlain Lowlands and the Green Mountains, does not experience the moderating effects of Lake Champlain or the cooling effects of neighboring higher elevations. The Town’s physiographic regions are shown on Map 12.1. January temperatures average between 16 F and 18 F; the mean temperature in July is around 70 F.  Since Franklin is located on the westerly slope of the Green Mountains it re­ceives relatively more precipitation in the form of rain and snow than areas in the islands and on the lake basin.  Annual precipitation averages between 36 and 42 inches.  Approximately 25 percent of this falls as snow during the winter months with snowfall averaging between 80 and 100 inches per year.  Due to its latitude and location in the foothills of the Green Mountains, Franklin has a relatively short growing season, averaging less than 120 days between the killing frosts of spring and autumn.  This limits the types of crops that can be produced. 

Air Quality

Weather patterns and wind direction in particular are important in the discussion of air quality.  Prevailing winds are generally from the west, but may vary in direction and intensity at a particular site from season to season, day to day, and hour to hour.  Wind, along with other atmospheric condi­tions, should be considered in siting any industry that produces airborne emissions.  Such emissions, including pollutants, smoke, and noxious odors, may be harmful to human health and the environment.  It is, therefore, important for local officials to consider the requirements of maintaining clean air in conjunction with the need for economic development.


Franklin lies within a Class II "attainment” or “clean air" area, as defined by federal standards and Vermont's Air Quality Implementation Plan.  A maximum level of pollution defined in these regulations cannot be exceeded.  Presently, no potentially polluting industries are located in Franklin.  The cumulative impact of minor sources, including automobile emissions and some agricultural practices, may have a greater impact on local air quality in the future.

Topography and Geology

Topography, or the shape of the land surface, is a function of the underlying bedrock, soil cover, and the effects of weather over the ages.  Franklin's topography, shown on Map 12.2, is comparatively uniform.  There are no major mountains or ridges and the difference between the highest elevation and the lowest elevation is only 633 feet.  The lowest elevation in Franklin is 262 feet above sea level in West Franklin, near the Highgate border.  The highest is 895 feet in southeast Franklin, near the Berkshire border.  Lake Carmi is located at 436 feet while Franklin Bog is at 428 feet.  Most human activity such as homes, farms, and businesses, takes place in the 300 feet to the 500 feet elevation range. 


Development on slopes of greater than 15% should be discouraged because of the risk of erosion, structural problems, and potential for ground water pollution, associated with the thin soils usually found on steep slopes.  These slopes present greater limitations for road construction, on- site sewage disposal, foundation construction, and provision of emergency services by the Town.  Steep slopes in Franklin are shown on Map 12.3.


Closely related to topography is geology, the study of the layers of the Earth's crust underlying the soils.  Franklin has a unique geology resulting from several significant geological and climatic events.  Glacial action, the movement of the Earth's plates to form a major north south fault, receding waters of the inland sea, and weathering have all had major effects on the geological makeup of the Town.


Franklin is bisected by a major fault, the Hinesburg Thrust, which enters Town just northeast of Rice Hill on the southern border and runs northeasterly to a point just west of Minister Hill on the northern border.  This fault marks the boundary between two distinct geological areas, namely the Champlain Lowlands and the Green Mountains.


The location of the fault also marks a border between different soil groups for Franklin.  This fault is the approximate edge of what was once a great Inland Sea, which gradually receded to become the present Lake Champlain.  The soils west of the fault were formed as a result of glacial deposits and the influences of this receding inland sea, while soils east of the fault were formed from glacial till (deposits consisting of particles ranging in size from clays to boulders) and the subsequent action of weathering and drainage patterns.


Topography, geology, drainage, and soils are major factors presenting opportunities or constraints for development.  These factors should be viewed as a whole when assessing the ability of the land to support a certain use or activity.  Many other factors may enter into a planning process, but if the physical conditions will not support the proposed use, problems will result for the Town and for individual landowners.  Franklin's soils fall into two general groups, those formed from the Green Mountain's glacial till and those formed from lake and marine sediments and the Champlain Lowlands glacial till.


Unfortunately, as far as development potential is concerned, the Town was not well blessed when the glacier distributed the soil cover.  Much of Franklin's soils are ill suited to development, generally having low permeability, shallow depth to bedrock, and high water table.  Franklin’s Primary Agricultural Soils are shown on Map 12.4. This is a very broad picture of the Town, and indicates that specific sites might not be well suited for development.  Individual sites should have on site soils testing performed to determine soil capability.  Soil tests and septic qualified septic system design helps insure adequate treatment of wastewater, protects homeowners against septic system failure, and reduces the possibility of groundwater contamination.


From a different use perspective, Franklin was blessed with the soils deposited by the receding sea and glacier.  The Town has a fairly high percentage of primary agricultural soils as defined Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).  These soils are of significant benefit to the farming community.


The two categories of interest for planning purposes are prime soils and statewide soils.  Prime soils are described as "having the best combination of physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, forage, and fiber crops, and are also available for these uses.”  Statewide soils are defined as "having good potential for growing crops, but have one or more limitations that restrict the choice of crops and require more intensive management than prime soils."   


An analysis of agricultural soils for Franklin indicates most have severe limitations for on-site septic.  This does not mean that individual sites, located within those broad soil types will not pass a perk test.  Rather, it means the mapped soils are likely to have severe limitations for proper wastewater disposal.  These limitations are usually low permeability, high permeability, high water table, depth to bedrock, slope, or others.


At first glance, this suggests that Franklin may have less development pressure on its agricultural land than neighboring towns, if soil suitability is one of the determining criteria.  Soils testing and septic system design, by qualified individuals, must be an important part of protecting homeowners and drinking water resources.  Septic system failure and drinking water contamination can be expensive to remedy for homeowners and present real health risks for residents. 

Earth Resources

According to the Vt. Geological Survey and NRCS Soil Survey, Franklin has few areas of sand and gravel resources.  The NRCS soil maps indicate small areas with potential for sand and gravel.  The most promising soils are suitable for road fill material rather than commercial sand and gravel applications.  Some of these soils are also important agricultural soils but viability can be protected through proper reclamation of depleted sites. 


Sand and gravel are important to the continued growth and economy of the Town.  However, it is important to recognize that these resources are finite and that the geologic processes that create them can take tens of thousands of years to occur.  In addition, their extraction can have negative impacts on the ecosystem.  In Franklin, their use must be carefully balanced with the consequences of their extraction.  To minimize negative impacts on the natural and cultural environment, a focus on appropriate site development that minimizes visual impact and reduces the risk of resource degradation should be coupled with post-operative attempts at proper mitigation and site reclamation. 

Surface Waters

Franklin's water resources range from rare and unique bogs to a Village water system.  Probably the most visible water resource is Lake Carmi, the largest lake completely within the boundaries of the State of Vermont. It has an area of approximately 1,375 acres and is a little over three miles long and one mile wide.  The surrounding watershed, shown on Map 12.5, encompasses some 7,710 acres.  Of that area, approximately 23% consists of surface waters such as wetland, rivers, streams, and lakes, 43% is forested and 34% is a combination of open and pastured land.  The lake is a warm water lake, though considered spring fed, and has a maximum depth of 33 feet and an average depth of 19 feet.


The water quality rating of Lake Carmi, according to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, is Class B.  Class B waters are defined as being able to support the following uses: swimming and recreation, non-contact recreation where ingestion of water is not probable, use for public water supply when filtered and disinfected, irrigation and other agricultural uses, provides high quality habitat and aquatic biota for fish and wildlife and exhibits good aesthetic values. 


Lake Carmi was identified as a prime candidate for a restoration effort by the state in the late 1970's.  Water quality monitoring has been conducted by lay monitors since 1979 and has provided a very good base of information for assessing water quality over the period.  Water quality monitoring has focused on three main tests, clarity, chlorophyll-a content and phosphorus content.  Water clarity is generally well below average.  Chlorophyll and phosphorus values are greater than average. Today, Lake Carmi is an impaired water with an EPA approved Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for phosphorus. 


Recent efforts to improve water quality in Lake Carmi have been led by the Franklin Watershed Committee (FWC).  FWC is a 501c3 not-for-profit volunteer organization with more than 80 members working to reduce phosphorus loading to the lake from non-point sources throughout the watershed.  The work is guided by the action items in the TMDL which include septic outreach, shoreline management, outreach and repair, stream surveys and repairs, and working with farmers and landowners to reduce loading to the lake.  The FWC was a 2010 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for their work.


Members of the FWC work collaboratively with other boards including the Selectboard, Planning Commission, Lake Carmi Camper’s Association and Historical Society, to bring about action on important issues such as road inventory and culvert upgrade issues, Carmi Public Beach stabilization and maintenance, lakeshore and village septic feasibility study.  


Members of the FWC also work collaboratively with other organizations to support and promote our goals such as the Vermont Housing and Conservation AmeriCorps, Youth Conservation Corps, AmeriCorps National Conservation Corps, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Natural Resource Conservation Commission, Franklin County Conservation Commission, Vermont Department of Labor, Agency of Agriculture, Agency of Natural Resources- Lakes and Ponds, and Streams, UVM Extension Service, Master Gardeners Program, Missisquoi River Basin Program, Northwest Regional Planning Commission, and Rubenstein Science Laboratory.


Members of the FWC have secured grant funding from the Center for Clean and Clear, Lake Champlain Basin Program, Agency of Natural Resources, Better Back Roads, Farmer’s Watershed Alliance, Watershed License Program, Allstate Insurance Company, and Chevron Corporation.


FWC’s Ongoing Programs include:  Classroom Education Programs; Septic Pump-Out Rebate; Shoreline Buffer Program; Nutrient Management Funding; Cover Crop Incentive; Construction Support for Water Quality Improvements; and an In Lake and tributary Water Sampling Program.


Other important water resources include Franklin/Lake Carmi Bog and associated wetlands.  These will be discussed under Fragile and Unique areas.


Towle Pond is an undeveloped water body located in the eastern part of Town.  The state has limited information available about the pond and its water quality.  The water surface area is approximately 95 acres and the water shed covers some 591 acres.  The pond is shallow and has extensive wetlands around it.  It is a significant wildlife and waterfowl site.


Ground water is another water resource that is extremely important to the Town and (all) its inhabitants.  Successful agricultural, commercial and industrial development is dependent on adequate, clean water supplies.  Statewide, 66% of the population relies on groundwater for their primary source of drinking water.  Of those 66%, a good share are from shallow well water sources. 


Groundwater is precipitation which works its way into the soil, passing through air spaces until it reaches a level where the water collects and forms a pond or fills rock fractures.  Known as the water table, it can fluctuate with seasonal and climatic changes.  These water-bearing deposits are referred to as aquifers and may be small or very large.  Very large ones are called aquifer recharge areas because they draw water from a large area and form a large volume of water.  These areas are particularly worthy of some level of local protection.


As water travels through soil, the soil acts as a natural filter for contaminants.  The ability of the soil to filter contaminants is influenced by the type of soil and the concentration of contaminants.  This is why septic systems, designed and constructed according to the results of soils tests, are so important for protecting ground water quality.  With increased understanding about the interaction between water and soil, scientists and engineers have developed minimum design standards aimed at treating wastewater, protecting groundwater and public health.


Soil type, depth to bedrock, depth to water table, slope, proximity to watercourses or wells, and volume and type of wastewater to be treated, are important design factors for adequate sewage treatment.  Water travels through the soil at different rates; therefore treatment of wastewater takes place at different rates.  If wastewater does not receive adequate treatment before it mixes with the groundwater the pathogens and bacteria stay "alive" and may contaminate a large area of underground water used for drinking water.


Groundwater contamination comes from numerous other sources such as oil or chemical spills, over application of chemical and organic fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides, road salt, underground storage tanks, etc.  Most of these sources of contamination are preventable or manageable through education and/or enforcement of local and state health regulations.  The long term cost of replacing water supplies is usually much greater than designing and installing septic systems properly and exercising care when applying fertilizer and chemical agents to the land.



Fragile and Unique Areas 

Franklin Bog is listed as a unique natural area on the Vermont Natural Areas Inventory.  Franklin Bog is described as an extensive quaking bog of approximately 150 acres. The basin in which it lies is approximately twice that size or about 300 acres.  There are scattered clumps of black spruce, larch, sphagnum moss, leatherleaf and two unique plant communities.  This is an unusual and significant natural area.  It is the only bog of its type listed in the Inventory located in Franklin County and is described as an outstanding example of a bog environment in the State.  Part of Franklin Bog is owned by the Nature Conservancy with the balance owned by several private landowners.  Human disturbance over the years has been minimal.  Efforts should be made to continue this lack of human disturbance and protect this irreplaceable natural resource.


In addition to Franklin Bog, the Lake Carmi Bog and two other swamps designated as natural communities by the Vermont Natural Heritage Information Project are important natural areas within the Town.  More information on natural communities in Franklin is available from the Vermont Natural Heritage Information Project (    


Franklin has many wetland areas, which are identified on the Vermont Significant Wetlands Inventory Maps.  These mapped wetlands receive protection from the Vt. Wetlands Rules, the Army Corp of Engineers, and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.  Wetlands are shown on Map 12.6.


The following is a brief summary of the Rules: Wetlands are identified by three parameters: soil type (hydric or wet soils), vegetation, and water table or hydrology.  All three conditions must be present to be considered a wetland.  They are further classified into Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 wetlands.  The important distinction is that Class 1 and 2 wetlands are mapped on the Vermont Significant Wetland Inventory and the Class 3 is not.  Class 1 and 2 wetlands are automatically subject to regulation while Class 3 wetlands may not be.  Federal or local regulations may apply.  The rules allow a number of permitted uses including an agricultural and silvicultural exemption if they comply with minimum standards.  Conditional uses may be allowed only after permits have been obtained from the Agency of Natural Resources.


The state was required to map Class 1 and Class 2 wetlands as part of the rules making process.  These mapped wetlands can be found on the Vermont Significant Wetlands Inventory Maps as mentioned above.  The Town Clerk's Office has copies of the Maps and the Vt. Wetlands Rules.  If not, landowners or local officials may contact the Agency of Natural Resources, Wetlands Office for information.  There are large fines for dredging, filling, grading or altering the flow of water from a mapped wetland.  Contact state or local officials to find out how the Rules may apply if you are contemplating work in a wetland.  


Wetlands have been defined by both the federal and state governments as providing essential functions beneficial to the health safety and welfare of Vermont's residents.  Some of these are storm-water retention and flood water storage, protecting groundwater quality, improving surface water quality by acting as a filter, stabilizing soil, providing spawning, feeding and habitat for fish, providing a wide diversity of wildlife habitat for birds, waterfowl, amphibians, reptiles, furbearers, and mammals, providing habitat for rare plants species, providing educational and scientific research opportunities, recreational opportunities, open space, and beauty.

Wildlife Habitat

With its water resources, wetlands and forested areas, Franklin has a wonderful mix of waterfowl, birds, furbearers, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.  Map 12.7 shows designated wildlife areas located in Franklin. Many Vermonters enjoy hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife photography and nature watching.  These wildlife resources are also a source of income to the Town, the Region and the State.  The importance of a healthy fishery in Lake Carmi cannot be overstated.


These wildlife resources are dependent on us, as caretakers of the land, for their continued survival.  Different species have minimum habitat requirements in order to maintain themselves.  Large mammals must have large contiguous areas of forestland.  Nonetheless development may occur in forested areas; but consideration should be given to the location of that development to reduce the impacts they may have on wildlife habitat.  The use of buffer strips and setbacks should be encouraged when siting development along shoreland and wildlife habitat areas.  The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department can assist municipalities with identifying and protecting significant wildlife habitat areas and has adopted some minimum guidelines for developments affecting habitat. 

Flood Resiliency

Flooding is a natural and common occurrence in Vermont.  Sometimes the results are harmless and sometimes they are severe.  Predicting the occurrence of devastating floods is nearly impossible so the best protection against loss of life and property is to not build in areas prone to flooding. Flooding can occur in two ways: inundation and fluvial erosion. 


Inundation Flooding

Inundation flooding is when water rises and covers the adjacent low-lying land. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) defines a floodplain as an area of land adjacent to lakes and streams that is subject to recurring inundation or high water (Map 12.8).  There are several areas of floodplain in Franklin. This includes areas along the banks of the Rock River, Marsh Brook, Pike River, and the shoreline of Lake Carmi.


Development within floodplains can have damaging consequences.  Development may obstruct the natural flow of water or displace soil and raise base flood elevations. One strategy to mitigate potential encroachment and flood loss is to prohibit development below the base flood elevation or set an elevation from which development is prohibited.  The State of Vermont has recently implemented a statewide buffer regulation on all lakes and ponds greater than 10 acres (including Lake Champlain). The Shoreland Protection Act essentially prohibits new clearing and development within 100 feet of the mean water level of Lake Carmi and places limits on clearing and development from 100 to 250 feet from the mean water level.  The intent of the regulation is to limit bank erosion, to protect shoreland habitat, and to improve water quality.  


The Town of Franklin has adopted land use regulations for 100-year floodplains (also referred to as special flood hazard areas) as defined by FEMA on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its residents and to allow the community to participate in the National Flood Hazard Insurance Program (NFIP). It is important to note that the existing FIRMs were created in the 1970s and have been “effective” since September 18, 1985. While this information is the best available, the hydrology that these maps are based on is out of date and therefore does not account for shifts in shoreline or effects of development. The FIRMs were digitized by the Northwest Regional Planning Commission in 1999 to assist in planning efforts and are used to determine approximate locations. The digital version cannot be used for regulatory rulings because the digital version is not from FEMA. 


Fluvial Erosion/River Corridor

Flooding can also occur through fluvial erosion, a condition that occurs when fast moving flood waters, typically in steep areas, cause erosion of areas surrounding streams and rivers. To identify areas prone to fluvial erosion hazards, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has identified River Corridors in all Vermont municipalities. River Corridors are based on the individual conditions of streams and rivers including topography and the existence of public infrastructure.  River Corridors have been mapped in Franklin on rivers and streams that already typically have 100-year floodplain.  River Corridors are not mapped for streams that have a watershed of less than 2 square miles. Instead, the Agency advises using a 50 foot buffer on each side of a stream with the intention of protecting stream stability and natural flow.  Map 12.8 shows all mapped River Corridors in Franklin.   


River Corridor regulations currently apply only to Act 250-related land development and land development not regulated by municipalities (like agriculture).  Municipalities may adopt River Corridor maps and regulation as a part of their development regulations. Adoption may provide financial benefits to the Town in the event of federally declared natural disaster due to changes in how the Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF) is administered.


Franklin has adopted zoning regulations to address fluvial erosion hazards on rivers and streams in the community.  Specifically, Franklin has adopted a setback from rivers, streams and Lake Carmi.  These regulations include at least 50 to 100 foot setback from all rivers and stream (the distance depends on the use of property and the zoning district) and a 25 to 50 foot setback from Lake Carmi (the setback depends on the use of the property).  Within these setback areas development is highly restricted. These regulations are comparable to River Corridor regulations and therefore may make a possible transition to River Corridor regulations relatively straightforward.  Franklin should investigate adopting River Corridor standards as a part of the Development Regulations in the future.


Planning for future flooding events is important to ensure that a community is flood resilient.  Development and adoption of a local hazard mitigation plan can help a community identify potential hazard risks to the community.  Local hazard mitigation plans can also identify projects in the community that can decrease the effects of potential hazards, such as the replacement of culverts or buyouts of properties with repetitive flood risk.  Approval of local hazard mitigation plans by FEMA may also lead to increased grant opportunities for communities to implement identified projects.  Franklin should develop a local hazard mitigation plan to plan for future hazards, including flooding, to ensure continued access to this funding. 



For Goals, Policies and Objectives related to Natural Conditions and Features see Chapter 2.


CHAPTER 13 Land Use





Franklin County has experienced a high rate of growth over the last ten years.  However, this growth has not been evenly distributed and has been primarily located in southern Franklin County and in the St. Albans and Swanton areas.  Meanwhile, Franklin has experienced moderate rates of growth over the same period.

Existing Land Use

The predominant land uses for Franklin have been a combination of agriculture, forestry, recreation, low density residential, commercial/limited industrial, and village.  Map 13.1 shows broadly defined current land uses in Franklin.


Agriculture and forestry uses have probably shaped the Town more than any other human uses and are responsible for the present land use patterns.  Agriculture and forestry contribute substantially to the local economy, to the social/cultural fabric of the community and to quality of life in general.  Franklin Village and East Franklin serve as the social and economic centers of town and are good examples of rural Vermont villages.  Much of the Town’s residences and commercial enterprises are located in these two areas.  However, new home sites are increasingly located along rural highways. The Town also has areas of natural resource lands including the lake, bogs, wetlands, streams and areas of steep slopes, shallow soils, or similar impediments to development.  These areas provide wildlife habitat, water recharge, retention, and purification functions, recreational and scenic opportunities, forestry uses and are irreplaceable if developed.  The other significant land use in Town is recreation, predominantly associated with Lake Carmi.  Over 40% of the housing units in Town are camps and are used seasonally.  This seasonal use represents an economic asset to the Town.

Land Cover

Franklin’s total land area is 40.88 square miles or 26,161 acres.  The majority of land cover in the Town is comprised of forestland (approximately 53.07 percent).  Water covers 10.03 percent of the land while row crops, hay and pasture combined cover a total of 29.78 percent.  Only 112 acres or 0.43 percent is devoted to residential uses.  Table 13.1 is a list of how the land is divided up for the Town of Franklin.  


Table 13.1: Land Use Cover for Franklin, VT


# of Acres

% of Total




Barren Lands















Transportation, Communications, Utility



Other Urban



Other Agriculture



Deciduous Forest



Coniferous Forest



Mixed Forest



Forested Wetland






Row Crops









Source: Landcover/Landuse for VT (2002), LANDSAT TM imagery.

Quality of Life

The Town has a responsibility to provide an environment which seeks to maintain property values and to protect them as places for quiet enjoyment and places of retreat for the family.  Any activity which involves such things as offensive noise levels, danger to surrounding property owners, environmental hazards or risks should be prohibited from locating or expanding within the Town except under strict zoning controls which can prevent their negative impact on surrounding properties.  Property uses, which fall within the foregoing descriptions, which do not involve activities easily administered, policed, or enforced by the Town and which have minimal value to the areas in which they are to be conducted or to the Town, should not be allowed as permitted or conditional uses in any zoning district in the Town.

Proposed Land Use Districts

The Town’s proposed land use districts are outlined below and illustrated on Map 13.2.  They designate the direction of future land use within the Town.