City to apply for grant to assess housing needs

Published 9:04 am Wednesday, April 20, 2011

FRANKLIN—The Franklin City Council agreed to apply for a grant for up to $15 million for the city’s comprehensive plan, despite residents’ objections.

In a 4-2 vote last week, council members agreed to proceed with the grant process, including a housing needs assessment that some claim will lead to redevelopment in the city’s south side.

Resident Thomas Councill asked city fathers to base the application on truth instead of making the housing situation look worse for a better shot at the money, as discussed in a management team meeting for the grant application.

“This whole thing is wrong,” he told the council. “It shouldn’t be done this way. Somebody’s going to take a loss based on lies.”

Councilwoman Mary Hilliard said the management team was asked to show the worst-case scenario in certain situations. She said she had no problem with the wording of the grant application.

Councilman Greg McLemore said he was troubled by the wording and asked council to consider giving residents assurance that the housing assessment, which is part of the grant application, would not imply that redevelopment should take place.

“It seems we have difficulty giving that assurance to people, but no problem with lying on an application,” McLemore said. “We are not doing the citizens justice by continuing this process.”

A McLemore motion to proceed with the process only after a resolution is made to assure no redevelopment takes place failed on a 3-3 vote.

Councilman Don Blythe said he favored rehabilitation over redevelopment as part of the housing assessment to be included in the grant application.

“With the economy and housing the way it is right now I think it would be more beneficial to keep neighborhoods where they are,” Blythe said. “I think it’s feasible to look at rehabilitation.”

With council approval, the city has already provided an initial report for the state money. Due to an extension, the city had until April 15 to file the report.