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Franklin BOMA, planning commission consider feedback from latest Factory District Community Workshop

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BOMA Planning Commission Anderson

Teresa Anderson, principle planner of Long Range Planning for Franklin, speaks to the planning commissioners.

Franklin city staff presented public feedback from February’s Factory Community Workshop at a joint Board of Mayor and Aldermen and Municipal Planning Commission meeting Thursday afternoon. 

At the February workshop, the Franklin government sought feedback on streetscape enhancements along Liberty Pike between Franklin Road and the railroad tracks, connectivity to Harpeth Industrial Court, public art installations, outdoor gathering spaces, and other design elements that would complement the new district. The city also considered different land uses and potential boundaries for the area. 

“We had approximately 180 attend the Factory district workshop, probably closer to 200,” said Teresa Anderson, principle planner of Long Range Planning for Franklin. “It was a fantastic turnout and a really great event.”

When asked what uses and amenities for the Factory District should be considered, many responded with walkability, sidewalk cafes, public spaces, small businesses, sit-down restaurants and natural environments. Walkability had the most votes: 68. Walking was also the most popular transportation option for getting to the area, as opposed to bikes and buses, with 83 votes.

For what types of uses should not be included, most people, six, said no extreme high rises and no scooters. Similarly, 42 said three stories was the tallest a local building should be. Regarding public art, 54 said colorful gardens and statues were most suitable for the district.

Twenty-five said they’d like to see “creative benches,” and 21 would like to see colorful crosswalks. Out of all the programming options presented, local farmers markets won out with 57 votes. Fifty also voted that they would like closed streets for the farmers market. 

Some planning commissioners argued that portions of what the public preferred according to the feedback would be impossible. While the public responded to concept images that did not necessarily reference specific roads, commissioner Marcia Allen claimed that closing off Liberty Pike for a farmers market would never happen and that a closed street in the area was highly unlikely. 

“Some of the things I’ve looked at, it looks like there are some pie-in-the-sky type discussions seriously presented to [the] joint conceptual meeting tonight,” she said. “I’m just saying, as someone who owns some property beyond here, some of this discussion is totally fairytale. I don’t know if people [giving the feedback] know how much this road is used.”

Some aldermen, such as Matt Brown (Ward 2), argued it was helpful to hear all feedback even if what was wanted wasn’t practically possible.

“The idea is that by giving people stimulus, what’s happening is they’re actually reacting to things,” Brown said. “Most people aren’t looking at it as ‘I’m expecting this to actually happen.’ They’re looking at what the experience is, what it is they feel, what they want. 

“I don’t look at it as street closure so much as what they are saying is, ‘I want to engage with people.’ Our main street is wonderful, but pretty narrow sidewalks, not a lot of places to sit and not a lot of places to gather unless we shut it down for festivals. I think when looking at this district, they’re saying, ‘How do I engage with it? How do I enjoy it?’”

Franklin city staff will host a second public workshop about the Factory District at an undetermined place and time. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Planning Commission will receive further feedback at a meeting on April 27 discussing the district’s boundary and building height maximums. 

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