Franklin sets six-month halt on downtown development: Here’s why

Franklin will be hitting the pause button on new commercial development in its downtown area for the next several months.

City officials requested the moratorium so they can take time to evaluate various development studies that are nearing completion in the coming months. The pause also will allow city officials time to make amendments to the city’s comprehensive plan, zoning map and development code.

City Council approved an emergency ordinance for a 30-day moratorium on new commercial development in the downtown revitalization area and heard the first reading of an ordinance establishing a 180-day moratorium that would run from Sept. 4 through March 4, 2022.

Law Director Ben Yoder told council Monday that “there’s lots coming in at the same time and this might be a good time to pause.”

Yoder said a moratorium would not affect residential, already permitted projects or expansions to current commercial buildings.

“We wanted to put a freeze on new development downtown because our comprehensive downtown plan and the traffic study are almost completed plus the construction of the new high school and roundabout (on East Sixth Street).”

Centers said council, “wanted to take a pause to make sure that as all the moving pieces come together that we are able to execute our development strategy that we’ve been working on over the past few years.”

Council commissioned the downtown revitalization study in April to evaluate potential public roadway; building facade; and other land use improvements in conjunction with the plans for the new high school construction that begins this fall.

Among those proposed changes include opening Main Street to two-way traffic; streetscaping; a downtown riverfront park by closing a portion of River Street; extending Seventh Street across the former Franklin Boxboard site to Riley Boulevard; and the redevelopment of the former Franklin Boxboard site that is being cleared.

“I think it’s a responsible move,” Centers said. “This won’t slow or affect development. It’s giving our staff time to evaluate the plan.

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