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FRAMINGHAM – When Framingham became a City in 2018, the Charter called for a reorganization of the Planning & Community Development departments.

Former Mayor Yvonne Spicer submitted a couple of plans, but they were rejected by the 11-member City Council.

In April of 2022, the City Council unanimously approved Mayor Charlie Sisitsky’s pick of Sarkis M. Sarkisian to be the City of Framingham’s Director of Planning & Community Development.

On Tuesday, January 2023, the City Council will review Mayor Sisitsky’s plan to re-organize the department at its scheduled 7 p.m. meeting in the Blumer room in the Memorial Building.

City of Framingham’s Director of Finance & Administration Louise Miller and Director of Planning & Community Development Sarkis Sarkisian submitted the plan to the City’s legislative branch of government.

Currently, the department is budgeted for 11.5 full-time employees.

The proposed re-organization keeps the department at 11.5 full-time employees.

One of the rejected re-organization plans by the Spicer administration proposed 15 full-time employees.

Editor’s Note: The rejects plan by Spicer, the current staffing, and the proposed Sisitsky administration re-organization charts are below.

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“The proposed organization reduces administration, while maintaining planning oversight, and creates four subgroups separate from administration to perform the functions of the Department,” wrote Miller & Sarkisian. “An entirely new subgroup is being created to address economic development.”

A focus on economic development was a request of the City Council, when it rejected past proposals.

The Deputy Director position is being replaced with an economic development position, under the current proposal.

The City has been without a deputy director, since Erika Jerram resigned.

“The proposed organization also eliminates an administrative position in conservation, replacing it with a land manager to address the land stewardship needs of the Department,” wrote Miller & Sarkisian.

The new Planning & Community Development Department “organization provides for a more action-oriented approach to the Department, while still emphasizing the permitting, board and committee support, and the planning needs of the City,” wrote Miller & Sarkisian to the City Council.

Under the re-organization, the “Housing and Community Development subgroup will continue administering Community Development Block Grant and HOME funds. In addition, that subgroup will be responsible for housing development, including monitoring and enforcement of affordable housing and housing related planning. The Housing and Community Development Block Grant subgroup will support the Community Development Committee and the Fair Housing Committee,” wrote Sarkisian & Miller.

Once the re-organization is approved by the City Council, the the Planning & Community Development Department will provides support to 10 City of Framingham committees, boards, & commission, comprised of more than 100 volunteers.

The committees range from regulatory to advisory to working and include:

• Planning Board

• Historical Commission

• Conservation Commission

• Community Development Committee

• Zoning Board of Appeals

• Fair Housing Committee

• Historic District Commission

• Agricultural Advisory Committee

• Bicycle, Pedestrian & Trails Committee

• and the newly-created Economic Development Corporation, which has yet to be appointed.

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Under the proposed re-organization the “Planning and Permitting subgroup will be responsible for the master planning of department, with the exception of open space and conservation,” wrote Miller & Sarkisian.

In conjunction with the Administration staff, the Planning and Permitting subgroup will be responsible for the permitting support for the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Planning Board, and the Historical Commission and Historical District Commission, under the proposed re-organization.

“The Economic Development subgroup will be responsible for economic development activities of the Department. The Economic Development subgroup will work with the Economic Development Corporation and the Framingham business communities to foster a positive economic environment and support and manage projects that foster economic development for a vibrant community,” wrote Miller and Sarkisian.

“The Conservation Permitting and Land Management subgroup will be responsible for conservation permitting, and managing the various open space and trail assets of the community. The Conservation Permitting and Land Management subgroup will support the Conservation Commission and be the liaison to Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs, and the Department of Public Works,” wrote Sarkisian & CFO Miller.

The Administration and Master Planning Oversight group will provide advice and support to all City staff and departments, the remaining boards and committees, businesses, and the community at large, explained CFO Miller and Director Sarkisian in the memo to the City Council.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.