Old controversy reignites on College Drive

Published 10:39 am Saturday, April 23, 2011

FRANKLIN—A request by a developer to rezone property on North College Drive to allow for the construction of 270 apartments is likely to be met with opposition during a public hearing next week.

The same land was the subject of controversy six years ago when the City Council rezoned it for condominiums, a handful of which were eventually constructed two years ago.

Meadow Lane resident Jerry Bryant said neighbors again are organizing to protest the proposed rezoning, which would allow the landowner, Franklin Summit LLC, to convert the existing condos to apartments and construct many more.

The Franklin Planning Commission will receive public comment on the rezoning request at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at City Hall.

An application with the Planning Commission states the company wants the zoning of the property changed from R3 and R0 to R1A to allow for apartment units to be built. The application lists the number of units at 277, of which 270 would be apartments and seven would be detached, single-family dwellings. Nearly half of the units would be designated for senior citizens.

Bryant said many citizens were opposed when the property was originally rezoned in 2005 for Meadows X LLC, and nothing has changed. When Franklin Summit took over the project in 2009, the plans were for 150 family condo units.

“Citizens were against it the first time, and now to put in 200-some rental units, it makes no sense,” Bryant said.

Bryant said the apartments would put stress on schools, the police department and other city services.

“It would change the makeup of the neighborhood,” he said.

Construction of the existing condos began in February 2009 but was hit with setbacks. The first was weather-related. Then, in July of that year, very old human remains were found on the site.

The first condo unit was completed in the fall of 2009.

North College Drive resident Chris Gorgei said he has no problems with the proposed apartments.

“I’m happy about it,” he said. “It’s bringing homes into Franklin, and it’s providing jobs in Franklin.”

Bryant said he thinks the developer should have to live with the original zoning decision to allow condominiums.

“The city shouldn’t have to change zoning to help enhance their proceeds,” Bryant said. “The city shouldn’t change zoning just for them.”

The application states there would be 13.53 units per acre on the 20.47-acre property, with an average of 30 percent open space.

Dr. Dan Peak, Planning Commission chairman, said he wants to hear what is said at the hearing and wants to hear from citizens on the issue.

“That’s what a public hearing is for,” Peak said.

The commission will take the public input into consideration before making a recommendation to the Franklin City Council, which will make a final decision on the rezoning.

Attempts to reach Brian Rowe, a partner in Franklin Summit, for comment were unsuccessful.