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Phase I of Hillsboro Road project clears final BOMA hurdle

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen finished its last meetings of the calendar year Tuesday addressing a flurry of issues and ordinances, including funeral processions, the long-awaited Hillsboro Road Improvement Project, the leasing of a downtown landmark, banning transactions between pedestrians and persons in vehicles, and again deferring a resolution that would significantly increase the size of the proposed Simmons Ridge residential development.

Hillsboro Road improvements project

BOMA unanimously approved a $12.1 million contract to Civil Constructors, Inc., to aesthetically improve a half-mile stretch of Hillsboro Road from Highway 96 to Independence Square.

“This is the largest section of [the Hillsboro Road Improvements Project] from a cost standpoint,” Stuckey said.

Overall, the project is expected to cost $21.7 million, and will widen portions of the heavily traveled thoroughfare from Highway 96 to Mack Hatcher. The project has been discussed for nearly two decades.

“Many people have been waiting for this for many, many years,” Stuckey said.

Five-Points Post Office

BOMA voted 6-2 to give its non-binding blessings to an agreement with FirstBank to lease the Post Office Building at Five Points in Franklin. In its final form, FirstBank would lease the landmark property for 20 years with the option for two 10-year renewals. The Tennessee-based bank committed to spend $3.5 million in repairs to the 88-year-old structure as part of the agreement. The rent would be $24,000 annually for the 15,740-square-foot building that currently houses a contractor for the U.S. Postal Service and the Heritage Foundation. BOMA must approve the lease in its final form before it can be enacted.

Funeral Processions

During the citizen comment portion of the work session, the owner of Williamson Memorial Funeral Home and Gardens spoke out against the recent change in policy that the Franklin Police Department will charge for its funeral-escort services.

“I want to make very clear that the escort is not for our company,” Pam Stephens said. “It is for someone's mother, father, brother, sister, child, or friend. This is not for the funeral home.”

The topic was not on the work session agenda. However, Stephens' comments were expected after the Williamson Herald reported the change in policy last week. Police Chief David Rahinsky told the Herald last week that the change in policy was brought about largely by increased demand of its resources.

“We were not able to provide funeral homes sufficient coverage,” he said at the meeting. “We thought this policy would provide us the ability to do so.”

Rahinsky said charging the funeral homes is similar to the department's policy that churches that desire traffic assistance from the city hire off-duty officers. He also said that Tennessee laws allow for funeral homes to provide escort service for their clients. However, At-large Alderman Brandy Blanton the police should provide escorts for funerals as part of its duty “to protect and serve,” and raised concern that the police department implemented the policy on its own.

“We have not been given an opportunity for public input,” she said.

Representatives from Franklin's four funeral homes are scheduled to meet with Mayor Ken Moore, Rahinsky, and City Administrator Eric Stuckey Friday to discuss the policy.

Banning sidewalk sales to motorists

After listening to several people denounce Ordinance 2012-60 during the citizen comment portion of the work session, BOMA voted to approve a ban on financial transactions between pedestrians and persons in vehicles. However, out of concern that it had not provided an official public hearing on the matter, BOMA voted to host a public comment session at its next regular meeting, Jan. 8, 2013. Among others, the measure would notably affect salespersons of The Contributor newspaper, who are either homeless or recently homeless.

Simmons Ridge delays

Jay Franks, the developer of Simmons Ridge subdivision, requested a deferral for the resolution that would revise its plan for a proposed residential development off South Carothers Parkway to include 408 units. The subdivision was originally approved in 2003 for 156 detached units on 89 acres. BOMA approved a revision in 2010 that would allow 240 detached units. However, due to zoning requirements, that number was reduced to 222 units. The Planning Commission unfavorably recommended the newest resolution with a 4-3 vote. This is the second consecutive BOMA meeting in which the developer requested a deferral of the measure.

Posted on: 12/12/2012


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