BZA approves of drive-in theater for Franklin

Published 6:17 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2022

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The Franklin Board of Zoning Appeals has approved the use of the vacant lot at 133 South St. as a drive-in theater.

Franklin City Planner & Environmental Specialist Carlee Gurskiy confirmed that this approval came Aug. 24 for Timothy Harris, who is the applicant.

“I’m really excited,” Gurskiy said. “I’m all for development of Franklin and bringing activities to Franklin, especially in my age group.”

Gurskiy, 25, noted that she grew up in the city.

“There’s not a lot of people my age here, and the ones that are, we kind of go to Chesapeake and Virginia Beach and Richmond and all the other big cities, so I’m really excited for a new activity, a different activity that we don’t have that I hope will draw out a lot of people,” she said.

Sharing Harris’ plans for 133 South St., Gurskiy said he is planning to utilize a portable, blow-up screen.

“The screen will be 20 feet by 40 feet, so it’s going to be a temporary structure, really,” she said, adding that it will be inflated Thursday or Friday for events and deflated on Sunday. “There’s really not going to be any work done to the site.”

She said Harris is going to bring in some Porta potties, especially some that are handicap accessible. 

“He’s hoping to bring in portable lighting to encourage a safe environment so people feel safe coming, bringing their cars — they’re not out in the dark,” she said. “And he’s hoping to invite a couple of food trucks every week for concessions.”

The drive-in theater will be a seasonal feature, running from March until November, Gurskiy said, noting that the site will open at 7:30 p.m., with movies starting at 8:30 p.m. and ending at 10:30 p.m.

“The BZA approved his use, so at this point, he’ll just have to get more of a definitive site plan on where things are going to go, the logistics, so he’s over the majority of the hump of the planning process, so he should be able to get started much sooner than maybe he thought,” Gurskiy said of Harris.

She also highlighted how the drive-in theater will be a boon to nearby businesses.

“There’s some great restaurants right on Main Street and some shops that I think it would be a great one-stop-shop for families and everyone to just come visit Franklin,” she said.