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News Town board considers Main Street issues at annual retreat

Banners hung across Main Street, like the one used for Venture Local’s StreetFest, have been determined to be “a safety issue,” and have now been banned by the town board.A large portion of the Town of Franklin's annual retreat Saturday morning involved Franklin's Main Street and possible changes that could affect the corridor itself along with festivals and the organizations that stage them.

The board quickly shot down the possibility of an ordinance to quell panhandlers in the city limits. The idea had been discussed at a previous board meeting. The board had decided that safety was an issue for individuals and organizations who stood in the intersections to collect donations and therefore had directed Town Attorney John Henning Jr. to proceed with the development of an ordinance to be considered in the future. The notion of an ordinance lost steam Saturday morning when board members acknowledged that there may not be a problem after all.

“I've looked at a lot of different ordinances from all over the state,” said Alderman Bob Scott. “I'm wondering if we've sought a solution where we don't have a problem.”

Alderman Sissy Pattillo agreed.

“I'm afraid that if we develop an ordinance, it is going to make it in to a problem,” she said.

The next point of discussion revolved around the use of banners across Main Street has been a hot-button topic between officials and Main Street community members. Although in the past, many different organizations have been allowed to hang banners across Main Street — including Angel Medical Center, Franklin Chamber of Commerce for its gemborees and Relay for Life events and others — the board has determined the hanging of the banners to be “a safety issue.”

Town Manager Warren Cabe suggested to the board that the issue needed to be addressed in a uniform ordinance.

The banners which were hung from buildings on opposite sides of the street have been used as a way to promote happenings in Franklin in the past, but has recently met with criticism from some Franklin officials.

“We've tried to clean up Main Street. Personally I feel strongly that if a banner is going to make or break any type of festival then there is something wrong,” said Pattillo. “We have our space at Town Hall that we have offered them to use. There are other areas in town where they can hang the banners. I just personally have a problem with it.”

“I think you’re having a personal problem, is blocking what a whole bunch of people want,” countered Scott. “A lot of people are wanting this banner. What harm does the banner do?”

The conversation shifted towards the safety of visitors to the events and the liability that the town could suffer if someone was to be injured as a result of a banner falling.

“I know advertising works, but here is the thing, it's a safety issue about hanging these banners across the street and hanging them from private buildings,” said Alderman Verlin Curtis. “I am totally against that. That will be a liability to the town and I think it should be outlawed if they can't find some other way.”

Aldermen Billy Mashburn and Farrell Jamison agreed that the banners should not be hung across the street.

“If we ban them, then we have to ban them for everybody, but we also have to provide an alternative,” said Pattillo.

Mayor Joe Collins suggested that the board members consider moving towards the purchase of some billboards for advertisement purposes that everyone could use.

“With the town, the TDA, the the TDC, and with the availability of the boards that I heard down in the Atlanta area, electronic boards are selling very cheap,” said Collins. “Finding the right location and going in to a partnership to be able to have a continual source of advertisement at a location that is tasteful, would be the best money that the TDA and the TDC could spend especially considering what they pay on billboards by the month.”

Support for this idea was apparent as the members discussed various billboards around town.

“We could buy the two down on the left coming up town hill and let them advertise on them,” said Curtis.

After an extended discussion of different billboard locations around town and strategies to secure them for advertisement by different groups who may approach the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) for help with funding of events, the members of the board gave Cabe the okay to pursue information regarding the agreed upon solution.


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