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News Town considers re-zoning issues

The Board of Aldermen met Monday night for its monthly meeting to discuss the budget that was presented last month by Town Manager Warren Cabe. Though the public was invited to comment on the proposed budget, none did so. Alderman Bob Scott moved to approve the budget with no amendments and Alderman Verlin Curtis seconded. The motion passed unanimously with no discussion.

Under the new business portion of the meeting, Town Planner Derek Roland presented to the board a potential plan to rezone two areas in the Franklin city limits. The first proposed area is the corridor that includes East Main Street, Gaston Street, Green Street, and West Palmer Street. The petition by the Town of Franklin would rezone the R-1 (residential) properties of those areas to R-2, allowing for manufactured homes to be placed on the properties.

“We had an incident where a mobile home burnt on Gaston Street and the owner wanted to put a mobile home back in its place,” said Roland. “The problem is that the way it is zoned, he can't do that because the first one was grandfathered in.”

The re-zoning petition would also seek to change the C-1 commercial areas of East Main Street and West Palmer Street to a C- 2 classification which would provide more options for businesses who may wish to come into that part of town.

“If you look at East Main Street where you come into town off of the highway, you'll see a C-2 area where there are a lot of different businesses and it's a busy area,” said Roland. “Then it goes to C-1 and then turns to a residential area. If we change that area to a C-2, I believe it will open up more business opportunities on that side of town. There will be a wider range of commercial opportunities. Looking towards the future we need to look at the possibilities for buildings in the area if they were to become vacant. We need to decide whether this change will make the properties more attractive to businesses.”

There are 144 parcels in the area that may be re-zoned and 120.68 acres. Roland recommended forwarding the request to the Planning Board for further consideration. The Planning Board would then send it back to the aldermen with their recommendations for action and the board can decide what action to take.

Alderman Verlin Curtis made the motion to send the petition to the Planning Board while Alderman Billy Mashburn seconded it. The vote was unanimous.

The next zoning petition that Roland brought to the board was on behalf of Richard Brady concerning 32 parcels of land on and around Pauline Avenue. The parcels are currently zoned as R-2 residential and the request would change them to R-1 residential which would not allow manufactured homes. The issue at hand was that of the 32 applications that were turned in, 16 were actually from the land owners and the other 16 were on behalf of land owners, filled out and submitted by Brady.

“Let me just clarify this,” said Town Attorney John Henning Jr. “What Brady has done is legal in North Carolina, he just has to notify the owners of the parcels that he has done this with a certified letter.”

Three residents were in attendance who said they never received notification from Brady.

“Neighbors pass property on to their children and they typically put a home on it. That's how we live,” said Pauline Avenue resident Bruce Koehler. “This individual is trying to harass a family who is trying to put a home on their property for their daughter. He's trying to affect property that isn't even close to his. He lives way out of sight from us. These properties have been R-2 for decades and if he gets away with this it'd be like me turning around trying to re-zone your land. It's not right. He does not represent me, he has not consulted me, and he hasn't sent me a letter like he has selectively throughout the neighborhood.”

Roland told the aldermen that the issue could be sent to the Planning Board for further consideration, after which it would be sent back to the board for its final approval. To hold a public hearing requires that the petition must be sent to the Planning Board.

“I don't see why we can't send it to the Planning Board,” said Alderman Farrell Jamison. “Over 50 percent of the people signed off on the petition. We can see what the Planning Board says and then move forward and see where we go.”

Mayor Joe Collins expressed his concern on the issue of having 16 people absent from the process.

“I just don't know if I see any grounds whatsoever to send this forward,” said Collins. “I just think the neighborhood should come together instead of using this third party approach.”

Alderman Verlin Curtis made the motion to send it to the Planning Board.

“We can send it on and get their recommendation and if it comes back, Mr. Brady will have to do his due diligence to notify property owners,” said Curtis.

Jamison seconded. The motion passed 5- 1 with Handley opposing.

Cabe also presented to the board, what he perceived as a viable option to the banner issue that was recently settled when the aldermen voted to ban their use over Main Street. Cited as a safety issue, the aldermen had directed Cabe to develop an alternative.

“We are going to order two nice poles to place in the front yard area of the Town Hall to replace the t-posts that are currently being used,” he said. “Non-profit organizations and events will be able to use this area. They will send us the banner and our staff will preview it before hanging it. That way we can act as the final approving body.”

Alderman Billy Mashburn moved to approve the plan with Alderman Sissy Pattillo seconding. Alderman Bob Scott opposed. Scott and Mayor Collins were the only members of the board to oppose the Main Street ban previously.

“I just think that people of the town want the banners over Main Street,” said Scott at the May meeting where the vote to rid the town of the banners had taken place.

At the next meeting, the aldermen can schedule a public hearing. Public notices in local media will be required. The Board of Aldermen meets the first Monday of each month.

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