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Franklin locals protest the development of the Middle Eight


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    At a Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting Tuesday night, local residents spoke during the public comment segment voicing discontent with a newly proposed development in the area, the Middle Eight. 

    Musician TobyMac and his wife, Amanda McKeehan, seek to develop the 7.1-acre property behind their historic home on the corner of Franklin Road and Liberty Pike, directly across the street from The Factory at Franklin. The Middle Eight is projected to provide over 250 housing units to Franklin’s growing arts and entertainment district through single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes and apartments. 

    The plan proposes two multifamily buildings (one massed as two buildings), houses and townhouses. According to meeting documents, a portion of housing there is meant to be affordable for those with an annual income of $50-60,000. Neighbors shared concerns about the height of one of the buildings projected to be four stories with a recessed fifth-story structure.

    “I am opposed to the Middle Eight development because of the density and the building height currently proposed,” said Tiffany White, a Franklin resident whose house neighbors the property. “I am not against all development. I want responsible development that is fitting of the area, and this project is neither. When I purchased my home 10 years ago, I never imagined that a high-density multifamily building could be across the street from my property.”

    In March, the Franklin Municipal Planning Commission passed a resolution to adopt an amendment for Envision Franklin, establishing a special consideration for the development’s multifamily residential design concept. 

    “The Special Consideration as proposed would allow additional height and parking reductions to be considered when underground parking is provided, and limited retail to be allowed when it is appropriate and supports the community and residential experience,” the item report reads. “The applicant intends to propose a multifamily development within the Special Consideration area if this amendment is approved. Included in this potential development is a four-story with a recessed fifth-story structure that would be comparable in height to the adjacent Jamison Station structure, for which this amendment is targeted.”

    Some residents have started a website, www.stopthemiddleeight.com, to halt the development. 

    “Put simply if this project is approved it will lay the groundwork for future developments where local codes and zoning requirements will no longer matter,” the website reads. “This will not be the last 5 story building but the FIRST of many.”

    Proclamations

    Franklin Mayor Ken Moore made two proclamations honoring longtime Franklin residents on Tuesday night.

    Frank Jones was honored for his 28 years of service on Franklin’s board of zoning appeals. 

    “During his tenure on the board of zoning appeals, Mr. Jones thoughtfully approached interpreting and evaluating the zoning ordinance and with his vast amount of institutional knowledge, provided consistency and fairness to the citizens of Franklin,” Moore said. 

    Dr. Jeffery Bethurum was also honored for his public service as a doctor and as a former mayor of Franklin. 

    “During his tenure as mayor, Dr. Bethurum focused on infrastructure and played a major role in creating the Franklin that we know and love today by focusing on upgrading the downtown streetscape, greenlighting a major bypass that we now call Mack Hatcher Parkway, widening of state highways including Highway 96, all while serving as chief of staff at a hospital and continuing to practice surgery,” Moore said. 

    City Hall site

    At a work session Tuesday afternoon, Franklin City staff presented four different City Hall site scenarios to aldermen to obtain feedback at future meetings on how to proceed with renovations and construction. The first scenario is to reconstruct the city hall at its current location with 514 subgrade parking space; the second scenario is to rebuild the city hall at the same site without the subgrade spaces (70 fewer spaces); the third is to construct at an alternative site of 3 acres; and the fourth is to build on an alternative site of 6 acres. 

    The projected cost for the first scenario is roughly $99 million, and the second scenario is approximately $90 million. The pricing of the third and fourth scenarios is undetermined as other sites have not yet been decided upon. Potential alternative sites should be located near downtown Franklin, zoned for commercial and civic/institutional uses and be at least two acres or more with additional space for parking. 

    Alderman Patrick Baggett suggested discussing the scenarios at a special work session before voicing concerns that new commercial development in downtown Franklin at the current city hall site could potentially overcrowd the area. 

    “I know we are tight on time, but we have a massive decision,” he said. “We are squeezed.” 

    Sources


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