Industry, recreation proposed for Franklin’s future

Published 9:33 am Friday, February 10, 2012

Michael Foreman and Hampton Roads Planning District Commission representative Jai McBride look over a zoning map while discussing economic development possibilities during a meeting on the city’s Comprehensive Plan. -- DALE LIESCH | TIDEWATER NEWS

FRANKLIN—Hall Street resident Michael Foreman would like to see more support for small businesses and industry compatible with the area’s natural resources, such as forestry and agriculture.

That’s why the 30-year-old business consultant attended a Tuesday meeting at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center designed for residents to help shape Franklin’s future.

“It’s important to get input from the citizens when dealing with something that will have an impact on the city over the next five, 10 or 15 years,” Foreman said. “We’re the ones living here, working here and developing business here.”

Jai McBride with the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission said the location of industry and strategies for attracting more people to Franklin were the primary topics concerning economic development. The majority favors locating new industry in the Pretlow Industrial Park in Franklin.

“That corridor has great access to Route 58,” McBride said.

A greater emphasis on tourism also was discussed. An open-air fish market and indoor water park near the Blackwater River were mentioned.

Other issues discussed included parks and recreation, land-use, housing and transportation.

Franklin native and Courtland resident Marshall Rabil would like to see redevelopment of the downtown, including housing above the businesses there.

“I don’t want to see anymore development along Armory Drive so it looks like every other town in America,” the 30-year-old Southampton Academy teacher said. “I want to see cultural development for the downtown area.”

Franklin resident Thomas Councill suggested more recreational facilities.

“If you want to prevent crime and get kids off the street, you need more facilities,” Councill said.

He also wants the city to focus on helping homeowners rehabilitate their property rather than move to redeveloped neighborhoods. Councill fears that redevelopment will lead to the government taking properties from owners.

“The government tends to abuse its power with redevelopment,” he said.

Sam Tuttle with Community Planning Partners said residents were concerned with the use of open land and a need for more playgrounds.

Concerns about the intersection of Hunterdale, Country Club and Delaware roads were chief among suggestions about the future of transportation, said John Carlock with the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission.

“There are congestion concerns,” Carlock said.

There are plans to study that area for signalization, he said.

A second meeting on the comprehensive plan will be held 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, at the Community Center.