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Town sets public hearing to demolish nuisance building, consider property rezoning

By Kristin Fox

Since October 2022, the Town of Franklin has been monitoring property in the town limits long considered an eyesore on the town landscape. Located at 981 East Main Street, the property has been determined to violate the chapter of the town code entitled Nuisances and in violation of the Minimum Housing Standards.

After the town receives written complaints from five or more citizens, the town planner is charged with the duty to investigate dwellings in the town that are a nuisance and in violation of the Minimum Housing Standards.

A public hearing was held in March 2023, and the hearing determination was mailed to the property owner in April 2023. It was determined that the “dwelling located on this property is in a dilapidated state, and it is unfit for human habitation” based on findings and conditions outlined in the Minimum Housing Standards.

Beginning on April 10, the property owner was given 90 days to bring the property into compliance — to demolish and remove or restore the dwelling from the current dilapidated state. After the 90 days, the dwelling was inspected and with no change to the dwelling, it was determined to still be out of compliance with the Minimum Housing Standards.

At this week’s monthly meeting of the Franklin Town Council, the town decided to take further action to remove the eyesore from the town. Town Attorney, John Henning, Jr. has prepared an ordinance for the town to review. The town will hold a public hearing on Monday, October 2 at or around 6:05 p.m. to receive input related to the ordinance ordering the town planner to move forward with the removal or demolition of the dwelling located on East Main Street.

The town also set a second public hearing on October 2, to receive public input on a rezoning request for property located at 311 Golf View Drive from Residential (R-1) to Neighborhood Mixed Use (NMU). The potential rezoning request has been reviewed by the planning board and forwarded to the town council for their consideration.

In August, the town planning board approved the rezoning application “with concerns.” Noted in the planning board’s report is that the rezoning request isn’t consistent with the town’s Comprehensive Plan which would need to be adjusted to match the zoning request. Another concern noted was that the rezoning request could affect the character of the neighborhood; properties to the east and west are zoned NMU while the property to the north and south are not.

In the report from the planning board, it was noted that the zoning amendment is reasonable and is in the public interest because it further develops undeveloped land. The majority of the property is wooded and not cleared.

David Forkner representing Kavod Community, LLC is the party requesting to have the property rezoned from R1 to NMU. The parcel is 10.28 acres and joins Golfview Drive and Womack Street. The property is located in both the town limits and the ETJ.

In other business, the town unanimously approved two capital project ordinances – the town sidewalk replacement and reconditioning project and Boyd’s Pump Station upgrade.
The town awarded DanGrady Company, LLC of Sylva for the sidewalk reconditioning and repairs for $317,875. The project will be financed using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The project will include sidewalk removal, reconditioning, and replacement along with the installation of curbing and ADA-complaint curb ramps for the entire Harrison Avenue, the short portion of Maple Street, and the entire Phillips Street. Improvements to the Phillip Street sidewalks are much-needed safety measures to address the student traffic in the area. The project is expected to be completed in 240 days and will begin as soon as the final contract paperwork is completed.

Work on Harrison Avenue sidewalks will encompass 2,625 feet from Church Street and Harrison Avenue to 587 Harrison Avenue. The project will include two curb ramps installed at Church and Harrison Avenue.

Sidewalk work on Phillips Street will be 1,720 feet from East Palmer/441 Business to Phillips Street and the Panther Drive intersection. This project will include 1,380 feet of curbing as well as one curb ramp installed at Phillips and Panther Drive.

The Maple Street sidewalk will consist of 300 feet with 230 feet of curbing from the West Palmer Street and Maple Street intersection to the West Main Street and Maple Street intersection.

A second contract was awarded to Bryson Enterprises, Ltd. for the Boyd’s Pump Station, a project the town has been considering for the last five years. The wastewater pump station upgrade will cost $283,018.39 and is projected to be completed in 154 days from mid-October 2023 to mid-March 2024. The project will include the removal and replacement of the equipment that is a portion of the town’s sewer system known as the “Boyd’s pump station.”

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