The Franklin Town Board of Aldermen held its monthly meeting Monday night to discuss a variety of different issues ranging from a rezoning issue to a number of proclamations and ending with discussion of some legal issues that the board hopes to resolve.
Re-zoning petition for Pauline Avenue
Property owners brought forth a request for the re-zoning of three parcels of land located off of Pauline Avenue totalling 13.47 acres. The properties are owned by Gary and Edith Holland and their former daughter-in-law, Natasha Tallent. The request before the board was to rezone the residential area from an R-1 to an R-2. The reasoning according to Gary Holland is that Tallent would like to install a manufactured home on her property which R-1 zones prohibit.
“We're asking for this to be re-zoned because our granddaughter wants to put a double-wide on the property, but can't because it's an R-1,” said Holland. Referring to the map that had been given to the board by Town Planner Derek Roland, he said, “Everything from Crestview through Ulco and on to Pauline is R-2 except for the piece of land in question. You may hear speculation of what we're going to do with this property, but we don't have any plans for the property except for this doublewide.”
When the request was sent to the Town Planning Board it was recommended that the aldermen approve the request, but Roland approached the board to explain that a petition of protest had been submitted.
“What qualifies this protest petition of being valid is that five percent of the owners within 100 feet around the buffer of the parcel being rezoned has stated in writing that they oppose the proposed amendment,” said Roland. “When a protest petition is deemed valid, it requires that the board vote to approve the request by a three-fourths or a super majority.”
According to Roland, in accordance with the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) an R-2 area allows for multiple family dwellings and manufactured homes. R-2 also allows up to eight units per acre.
Prior to the board proceeding with the hearing, Town Attorney John Henning Jr. suggested that the board not focus on perceived intentions of the citizens seeking the change, but instead realize that nothing restricts them to their current plans and that the different designations (R-1, R-2, etc.) legally allow them to go beyond them.
In opposition to the proposal being made by the Hollands, were four people who were present to give their reasoning to dissuade the board, though it was apparent that there were up to 10 signatures on the protest petition that had been submitted to Roland.
John Lathrop, accompanied by his wife and who is also a land owner on Pauline Avenue, spoke first.
“All occupied land on Pauline Avenue, Pauline Circle, and Oakwood Drive have constructed homes or modular homes that would pass in the R-1 zoning guidelines,” said Lathrop. “All the property was required to be similar until the zoning was changed. You could not have mobile homes on the property. In an R-2 you can have a mobile home park. I'm not saying that would happen, but if it was to, home values will drop. Why open the door to these problems?”
The value of the homes in the neighborhood was the theme of the speakers in attendance, with each one describing their personal feelings towards the change.
“There is already some trailers over on Ulco. They're not maintained and they don't look well,” said Pauline Avenue resident Richard Brady. “It doesn't look like we have any ordinances. Nothing is enforced. Our concern is that if this land gets changed, there's a number of possibilities concerning how many mobile homes get put in there. That turns into a bigger concern of infrastructure. There will be an increase in traffic in and out of there. We're also concerned with the water source and the value of our homes. I'm sure that any of you would be concerned too if you looked in the newspaper and realized that the property around you was up for a zoning change. I just respectfully request that you take all of these matters in to consideration.”
Given the choice to resolve the issue or to table it for further reflection from the board members, Alderman Bob Scott recommended that the issue be addressed before those in attendance.
“I can see both sides of this issue,” said Alderman Joyce Handley. “If I was one of these neighbors I would not want to see anything threaten the value of my home. On the other hand if it were me wanting to put the doublewide in, I would want to be able to do what I wanted with my land.”
Scott made the motion to approve the rezoning request and was seconded by Handley, but when the full vote was conducted, the two were the only members in support and the request was denied with Pattillo, Curtis, Jamison, and Mashburn voting against the motion.
Mayor signs proclamations
Franklin Mayor Joe Collins signed two proclamations. The first declared the week of May 13-17 be designated as Neuropathy Awareness Week. Neuropathy is a disease that affects 20 million people in the United States and it is a result from injury to the peripheral nerves. It affects the hands and feet, causing weakness, numbness, tingling, and pain. In signing the proclamation, Collins urged everyone to work together to raise awareness of the disease.
The second proclamation was one that declared the month of May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria, Borrelia Burgdorferi and is transported through infected ticks. Around 1,000 cases were confirmed in 2012. The disease is hard to diagnose because there are no reliable lab tests to prove infection. Early indicators of the disease are flu-like symptoms. Weeks or months later, if untreated, patients may suffer from permanent and sometimes life-threatening damage to the brain, joints, heart, eyes, liver, spleen, blood vessels and kidneys. According to the proclamation, the best way to combat the disease is to spread awareness and education.
New TDA member
On March 11, members of the Tourism Development Authority voted to recommend Cheryl Pullium, manager of Jamison Jewelers to fill a vacancy on the TDA board. The seat was previously held by Ellen Jenkins with Primrose Lane.
Pullium would fill the vacancy for a tourist related business directly involved with the collection of sales tax since Jamison Jewelers serves both local customers as well as tourists. The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to approve the new addition. Pullium will serve a term of two years.
The Town's annual retreat will be held on Saturday, April 13, in the Town Hall boardroom. At this meeting, new Town Manager Warren Cabe and the Board of Aldermen will look at the current state of Franklin and the goals that the members hope to accomplish in the future.