Planning Commission says ‘no’ to apartments, townhouses

Published 9:21 am Friday, December 2, 2011

FRANKLIN—Despite the promise of a $20 million investment, the Planning Commission voted 3-1 against recommending a zoning change for 108 apartments and 82 townhouses on North College Drive.

Bobby Tyler, Dr. Dan Peak and Carolyn Williams on Thursday voted against the proposal by Franklin Summit. Lawyer Artis supported the project. James Riddick, who told The Tidewater News in an earlier interview he supported the zoning change, came to the meeting late and missed the vote. Member Ray Smith resigned from the commission Thursday.

The Planning Commission’s decision is a recommendation to the City Council, which will have the final say.

Norwood Boyd of 405 Meadow Lane said if the board recommended the rezoning it would be inconsistent with a July action that prevented the Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority from building townhouses on 10 acres.

“What’s changed in 125 days? Nothing’s changed,” Boyd said. “I urge you to be consistent and reject this application as you did a similar application 125 days ago.”

The same 20 acres was rezoned six years ago to allow Meadow X LLC to build condominiums. When Franklin Summit took over the project in 2009, the plans were for 150 condo units.

Peak agreed with Boyd.

“When we rezoned this the first time, we gave up a little density to get rid of rental property,” he said. “In order to be consistent, there would be no reason to accept these rentals.”

Blake Blythe, owner of Blake Ford, asked the commission to approve the zoning.

“If this project goes down, property values in the city will go down,” he said.

The proposed project would pump $12 million into the economy because of construction-related purchases, according to a letter from Franklin Summit owner Bob Williams. In addition the project would result in an $18 million to $20 million investment and jobs for five years.

Williams said the development team will make a presentation to the City Council.

“We’ll go to the city council,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good project, and I think the apartments are needed.”

Williams has previously stated the apartments wouldn’t be low-income housing, but would be ideal for young professionals, such as teachers.