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News Town Planning Board considers rezoning issues

Franklin's Planning Board met Monday afternoon to discuss several issues concerning current zoning designations of properties located in the city limits.

The first item on the agenda is the possibility of rezoning of 32 parcels of land located on Pauline Avenue. Of those parcels, 16 applications were submitted by the owners and the other 16 were submitted on behalf of the property owners by nearby landowner Richard Brady. The parcels are currently zoned as R-2 residential which would permit manufactured homes or mobile homes and the applications request that they be rezoned to R-1 residential where they would be prohibited.

“Before we get started, let me clear this up,” said Town Attorney, John Henning Jr. “This individual has submitted these applications on behalf of the property owners without their consent and though it doesn't happen often, this is legal in North Carolina. If you decide to recommend that it be rezoned, he has to prove through certified letter that he notified the owners and that there will be a public hearing where they can contest it if they would like.”

At last month's Board of Aldermen meeting, in a vote of 5-1 with Alderman Joyce Handley opposing, town officials chose to send the issue to the Planning Board for its recommendation. Mayor Joe Collins had also expressed his concern over the issue.

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

At Monday’s meeting, residents of Pauline Avenue were present to voice their opinions about the issue. Bruce Koehler who was at the town board meeting was the first and only voice in opposition to the proposal.

“I just think that he should have reached out to his neighbors instead of going behind their back to get these applications in,” said Koehler. “All he had to do was come talk to me and there's a good chance I would have agreed with him, but this just isn't right.”

Being the only opponent at the meeting, he was followed by those who supported the change.

“We're not trying to hurt anybody,” said John Lathrop. “We just wanted to protect the property that we have from being devalued.”

Others in the room echoed the same sentiment and referenced a rumor of a supposed plan to install a mobile home park on a large parcel of land at the end of the street.

“Let me address that before we move forward,” said Town Planner Derek Roland. “The property is an R-2 parcel which actually requires that there's only one home per lot. Even if somebody wanted to do this, they would have to go through the process of subdividing the lot.”

Looking at the maps provided by Roland that showed the different zoning designations, Planning Board member Janet Green noted that most of the property in the area was zoned as an R-1. She agreed that if the board saw fit, that it could be approved. Board member Tom Harris seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. It will now go before the town board, but in the mean time, Brady must notify the 16 property owners who did not personally submit applications of the public hearing that will be scheduled. Notice will also be in local publications.

Roland presented to the board a request from the Town of Franklin to rezone parcels of land located in the city limits. He discussed the corridor that includes East Main Street, Gaston Street, Green Street, and West Palmer Street. The petition by the Town of Franklin would re-zone 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.”

Referencing the map, Green pointed out that the line of the proposed R-2 zones would encroach close to Harrison Avenue and Trimont Trail.

“Well I think we can agree on this change and just move the line back,” said board member Larry Hollifield.

The board agreed to the request with the change proposed by Hollifield.

As per N.C. law, a public hearing must be scheduled before the rezoning decision is official.

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