Franklin wants public’s input on comprehensive plan

Published 10:49 am Wednesday, March 4, 2015

For the past three years, the Franklin Planning Commission has been in its cycle of reviewing its comprehensive plan. The commission is asking residents to attend its public hearing on Thursday at 6 p.m., to give feedback on what they’d like to see the City plan to accomplish.

The goal following the hearing is to approve the plan, after which it will move to the Franklin City Council, which may go through another period of information sessions. Finally. Franklin Council would host a public forum of its own before ultimately approving it.

The plan tries to envision the future, up to 2040 on the far end, based on population and economic projections. The goal is to make sure Franklin has planned effectively to have a place in this future.

By 2040, Franklin is projected to grow by 24 percent, according to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission.

To meet that, the City will have to consider housing and infrastructure. The City does not have the same control over residential housing that it does over utilities and roads. However, it can control zoning, and work to get Community Development Block Grants and HOME Funds. The City can also work with the Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority to improve public housing.

Another potential plan is to consider mixed-use zoning for the Downtown Special Taxing District, so that apartments can be put in.

With increased growth, the City wants to promote better access to certain major roads, including Armory Drive, South Street, North High Street, Hunterdale Road and Clay Street.

The City also plans to become a more bicycle- and eco-tourism-friendly city. Short-term projects are to create a Blackwater River Greenway Trail System, re-stripe Armory Drive to be more bicycle friendly, create a downtown walking route. Long-term projects include expanding the Blackwater River trail system, creating more shared-use paths and promoting construction of a bicycling and walking activity area in the northern part of town.

Green space is also important, and the City would like to improve the landscaping around the Farmer’s Market and the Blackwater River. A park could be created in the Hunterdale area.

Several buildings also need improvement, including the library, public works center, emergency services building, health department and social service building.

The plan also considers land use, with no major changes anticipated; revenue-sharing, to continue to coordinate with Isle of Wight and Southampton County in the revenue sharing zones; Route 58, to continue to develop property along it; Fire and Rescue, whether a new station should be built in the southern portion of the city; and education, to consider options for partnering with Southampton County Public Schools due to declining enrollment in both systems.

Deputy Director Beth Lewis invites people to make their voices heard in Thursday’s meeting in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

The current plan was last amended in 2012 with the land use designation change to allow for the rezoning of the Hayden School property for a mixed-use facility.

The entire draft is available at City Hall, as well as the Martin Luther King Jr. Center and the Ruth Camp Campbell Memorial Library. The plan is also online at

For more information, call Community Development at 562-1003.