Redevelopment needs oversight

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 17, 2007

To the Editor:

The City of Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority is in the process of developing another Langston Street type project within the 11 acres that contains the Suburban Gardens public housing complex. The same people that brought us that failed effort are doing this new project.

Langston Commons did not meet the needs of the community, wasted taxpayer money, and has many so called affordable housing dwellings sitting empty, unwanted by buyers, and waiting for local thugs and drug addicts to break in and use them for crime and personal vices.

The Housing Authority is seeking a Hope VI program grant that will enable them to build commercial buildings such as a Food Lion, Barnes and Nobles, or an ice cream shop. If they pursue this kind of vision, they will have to widen Banks Street to four or more lanes. If they put in a gas station or small shops, they would probably become hangouts similar to the ones we have on South Street now.

If they build even more affordable housing, those houses will sit empty, waste taxpayer money, and not serve our community interests.

What we need is a strong planning process that includes all of the citizens before the application is submitted, but more than that we need a change in direction and leadership.

We need to do the following:

– demand the FRHA place all of their meeting minutes, and proposed plans on the internet for citizen review;

demand that the city council limit the housing authority to the business of managing public housing;

– demand that the city reconcile the FRHAs Housing Plan, the city’s Comprehensive Plan, with any plan that the Authority develops for the Suburban Gardens area; i.e., rental housing issues, number of bedrooms in a unit, and the building of attached dwellings;

demand that the Housing Authority submit their current proposal and vision to the City Planning Commission for their review and input;

immediately contact our state representatives, Del. Roslyn M. Tyler and Virginia State Senator L. Louise Lucas, and ask them to introduce legislation that will require redevelopment and housing authorities to submit their redevelopment and revitalization plans to local planning commissions for review;

immediately contact our city council members and demand that they remove and replace ‚hairman E. Kent Pope, Commissioner Cheryl Vincent and Commissioner Brenton Burgess from the FRHA board of commissioners.

We should act immediately because our homes, property values, and our quality of life is at risk.

Thomas H. Councill Jr.