Board approves Franklin duplex

Published 8:09 am Friday, September 24, 2010

FRANKLIN—The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals gave the OK to complete a vacant unfinished duplex at South and Wilson streets.

The matter came before the board after Community Development Director Donald Goodwin denied permits because that area of the city doesn’t currently allow duplexes.

Contract purchaser Clinton Smith wanted to buy the property from its current owner, New York Mellon Successor Trustee Bank, contingent upon being able to finish construction of the building.

When the building was initially permitted in 2004, duplexes were allowed in that zoning district, however, City Council later voted to amend its zoning ordinance to allow only single-family homes in that district.

Since it had already been properly permitted, the duplex was considered a legal non-conforming use and construction continued. In 2007, the developer ran into problems, construction halted, and the building remained vacant.

Goodwin said once a building becomes vacant, and there is no activity for two years, it must revert back to a permitted use.

An amended state statute that went into effect July 1 upholds the property owner’s “vested right” and says subsequent ordinance changes don’t apply because it was previously permitted.

“Based on that amendment, they overturned my decision not to issue the permits for a duplex,” Goodwin said. “Once it’s completed and occupied, it will be considered a legal nonconforming use.”

Since it will be a legal nonconforming use, if the building is damaged beyond two-thirds of its insurable value or is vacant for more than two years, it would revert back to a permitted use, which would be a single-family home, Goodwin said.