Route 58 rezoning proposed

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

FRANKLIN—Franklin city officials will be asked to rezone 63 acres on South Street at the Route 58 Bypass for the possible development of motels, convenience stores, other retail or light industry.

A public hearing will be held 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at City Hall before the planning commission for rezoning the property that was once targeted for a 149-lot housing development, said Donald Goodwin, director of community development. The planning commission will make a recommendation to city council for approval.

Amanda Jarratt, president and chief executive officer for Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc., said rezoning the property makes sense.

“We are working with the purchaser of the property to market it for commercial development, and rezoning is the first step,” Jarratt said.

Mid-Atlantic Communities has an agreement to sell the property to John Janson of South Hill, according to the agenda for the hearing. Janson could not be reached.

Mid-Atlantic in 2007 had planned to build homes there, Goodwin said.

“Before the downturn (in the economy), they had actually been marketing that property,” he said.

In 2010, the property was included in the Enterprise Zone, which provides developers with state and local incentives to build there, Jarratt said. The property also adjoins Pretlow Industrial Park.

“We re-evaluated the best use of that property,” she said. “It has amazing frontage along Route 58 and access to the interchange.”

Jarratt said there have been numerous conversations for potential development, but it’s too premature to comment.

“The really positive thing for the city is this could lead to capital investment and job creation,” she said. “That’s why we are working closely with the broker.”

Jarratt noted that Route 58 is a key asset to the area.

“This is the first step with this property is to have it rezoned,” she said.

Goodwin noted the property would make “a nice gateway” to the city and the comprehensive plan — a map for development — calls for it to be commercial.

The property is currently zoned for single family homes and general residential. The request is to rezone it for general business district.