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Preservationists balk at car wash buyers plan for townhouses

Skip Anderson

Preservationists want to prevent the property that currently houses the Columbia Avenue Car Wash from being turned in to a mixed-use development.

Columbia Avenue Power Spray Car Wash at 1416 Columbia Avenue, considered historically signifi cant by preservationists because of its vicinity on the Columbia corridor that marked Confederate soldiers’ march to the Battle of Franklin, could be considered for rezoning.

However, some preservation organizations are apprehensive of design plans that may be devised should the historical site be rezoned.

“We don’t want to push the rezoning through prematurely, but give time to work through conversations with concerned parties,” said Daniel Woods, landscape architect with The Addison Group.

Woods, who has a contract to purchase the property in July, is keeping talks open with the city as well as organizations such as Battle of Franklin Trust and the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County about plans for the site. Woods pulled the original plans from a joint BOMA and Planning Commission conceptual meeting last month to give more time for conversation between concerned parties.

O. James Lighthizer, president of the national organization the Civil War Trust said, “We do not believe that such a proposal is appropriate to this location and encourage the Planning Commission and [BOMA] alike to refrain from approving it,” in a letter to Chairman Mike Hathaway of Franklin Municipal Planning Commission.

Woods proposes to rezone the central commercial property to a mixed-use neighborhood, capable of housing the seven townhomes two stories in height equipped with home offi ce space that he has planned.

“We have not received application for rezoning yet,” said Catherine Powers, director of Franklin’s Planning and Sustainability Department.

The units would jointly rest on 0.39 acres, and consist of 1,200 to 1,400 square feet each priced between the low $200,000s to $250,000.

“The townhomes would allow residents to live close to downtown Franklin and work from home,” said Woods.

“The present zoning is a better use of the property than the proposed rezoning, which would allow seven townhomes on less than half an acre,” said Mary Pearce, executive director of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County. “Columbia Avenue is the backbone of the Civil War and a tourism corridor.”

“The biggest task at hand is to advocate against rezoning,” Pearce said. “We are at a moment in time when we are building a legacy for the future. It’s critically important to preserve our history and community character, especially along a major corridor connecting national landmarks such as the Carter House, Carnton Plantation and Fort Granger.”

“It is a historically significant piece of property, and I would love to see it as an open space,” said Stacey Watson, interim executive director of Franklin’s Charge, a Franklin-based nonprofi t battlefi eld preservation organization. “We understand that developers can purchase the property, but we were asked our opinion, and it would be our dream to preserve it as open space.”

Woods said he plans to meet jointly with BOMA and the Planning Commission to review new ideas in an effort to compromise with the city and preservation groups that desire to maintain the historical authenticity of the property, he said.

The biggest change to the original plans is the height and scale from three stories to two stories Woods said. The style of architecture is to be determined.

“I am not sure how it will shape out right now but there are checks and balances, and all parties want what is best for Franklin,” said Woods, who also serves on the Franklin Housing Commission.

Posted on: 5/2/2013


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