After months of back and forth conversation about the rezoning of Pauline Avenue, the Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen finally voted to allow the parcels in question to be rezoned from an R-2 residential to an R- 1 residential area at Monday night's monthly meeting. An R-2 residential would allow mobile homes to be placed on properties while R-1 would not.
The rezoning application for 32 parcels of land on Pauline Avenue was initially submitted on May 17 by Richard Brady. Sixteen of those parcels, exactly half were submitted by a third party—Brady. According to North Carolina statute, Brady was required to notify those property owners thus giving them the opportunity to attend public hearings that were arranged in the ensuing months to voice their support or opposition. At those meetings, most in attendance were in support of changing the zoning designation to an R-1. One attendee, Bruce Koehler and was adamantly against the change and was on hand Monday night to stand his ground.
“These people want to change the zoning restrictions because they fear mobile homes. They are afraid that the owners of four vacant properties will put in mobile homes, but these owners don't want to do that,” said Koehler. “We're asking for your protection.”
Koehler was followed by Brady and then Audrey Cook who voiced their support of changing the restrictions. John Lathrop followed, also supporting the move.
“We're just trying to protect the value of our property,” Lathrop said. “This is a nice community.”
“I'm concerned with the value of my property,” echoed Vinnie Rankin. “I also don't think the road can handle increased traffic. It's already at capacity.”
Others voiced their support as well, citing these same concerns. Franklin Town Planner Derek Roland came to the podium to discuss a number of protest petitions that had been submitted that disagreed with the move to rezone the 32 original parcels as well as five more parcels on Pauline Avenue that Roland and the Town Planning Board had recommended to rezone to an R-2 as well.
“There were 29 percent of the land owners of the parcels or owners of land in the buffer zone of Pauline Avenue that submitted protest petitions. According to state statute, if at least five percent submit protest petitions then a super majority vote is required to pass these changes,” said Roland.
In the months leading up to the vote, the planning board had considered the issue and expressed its belief that this change would be of benefit to the citizens of the town and would adhere to the Principles of Growth as detailed in the town's Unified Development Ordinance.
Mayor Joe Collins suggested that the board take the time to discuss the issue before taking a vote on it.
“Last week, I had the opportunity to walk that street,” said Alderman Sissy Pattillo. “It's a very nice street and I can understand why they are wanting this. It's a well kept neighborhood and I had the opportunity to talk to some of the residents. It's a very nice area and I can see why they want to keep it residential.”
Alderman Bob Scott asked Roland if the board could vote to rezone based on the assumption that in the future someone may want to put in mobile homes.
“The way you have to look at it is that anybody — be it residents, administration, or the town board can request a change in zoning,” said Roland. “I guess what we have to do is take the rezoning application at face value. This is a valid petition.”
Citing the protest petition against the move, Scott wondered if those land owners shouldn't be considered as well as the applicants.
“There have been protests filed which tells me that this is not 100 percent of all residents wanting this rezoned. If we do this there is a certain amount of involuntary [rezoning] involved. Where do the minorities stand on this? I think that is something that has to be taken into consideration,” said Scott.
Alderman Joyce Handley made a motion to proceed with rezoning the original 32 parcels of Pauline Avenue from an R-2 residential to an R-1 residential. Alderman Verlin Curtis seconded the motion and it passed with a vote of 5-1 with Scott opposing.
Handley also motioned that the additional five parcels be rezoned from an R-2 to R-1. Curtis, again seconded and it passed unanimously.