After two years of research, meetings and plenty of planning, the city of Franklin appears to be in the homestretch toward implementing its new zoning ordinance on the target date of Dec. 30.
The final path was opened Tuesday night during the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting when members voted unanimously on first reading to approve the ordinance for what has become known as Zone Franklin, a new set of guidelines that will be more closely aligned with the Envision Franklin initiative the city adopted in January 2017.
The board will vote again on second and third readings Nov. 26 and Dec. 10, and within a few weeks the new ordinance will take effect.
“We established goals early on in this process to align more with Envision Franklin,” Kelly Dannenfelser, assistant director of Franklin’s Planning & Sustainability, said during a presentation at Tuesday’s meeting. “[We sought]to emphasize community character; to be clear, simple and understandable; to organize the document for easier use; and to reduce the number of conflicts and overlapping provisions.”
The real push to move the zoning ordinance to completion began in February in a series of meetings and workshops known as Planapalooza, a program created by Franklin-based planning firm Town Planning & Urban Design Collaborative (TPUDC). From that came a draft of the new ordinance, and throughout the summer the planning staff met with design professionals, development review team staff, and members of the Franklin Municipal Planning Commission and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
In addition to developers, planners, architects, engineers and other key stakeholders with a vested interest in Franklin’s look and feel, organizers also engaged the community at large. Brian Wright, founding principle of TPUDC who has done similar work with towns and cities across the country, said the input in Franklin stood out.
“We heard a lot from the community on why we need to do this,” he said Tuesday night.
“We know that over the years, that focusing on separating one use from the next — as most cities have done around the country — have ended up making those cities look like every other city. And if I heard one thing from the community, it was we want this place to be special, to build on what we love about it and its history. We want to also move forward doing things that are unique and special like Franklin is.”
Wright said public input has been critical to the life of the ordinance.
“One of the things we’ve learned over the years is you can’t anticipate every scenario,” he said. “One thing we can anticipate for sure is that the ordinance is written from the public input we’ve received over the past two years from the thousands of people that have participated [in its development]. We know that it is so much better than the existing ordinance.
"At the end of the day, when it’s adopted, the next day you’re protected by the thousands of things that are in here.”