(Franklin) — The Franklin City Council conducted its regular monthly meeting Thursday, August 7 and one of the items on the agenda was the new business property of the law office of Michael Arrington located at 133 Newnan Street in downtown Franklin.
The topic first came before the council at the July meeting when some concerned citizens made public comments about the zoning of the business.
With several citizens again attending Thursday’s meeting Mayor Joel Rogers suggested the council move the public comments portion of the agenda to the beginning of the meeting and the council did so unanimously.
The first citizen to speak was Kaye Timmons. “This whole scenario is taking place simply because the rules have not been followed. I don’t care if it involves Michael Arrington or Yosemite Sam,” said Timmons.
Marilyn Bledsoe Ray expressed her concerns that proper procedures had not been followed by the city in granting the business license.
Home businesses are allowed in the residential area but are subject to zoning restrictions on parking, signage, and the percentage of the floor plan of the home used for the business itself.
Another citizen, Denise Harrison spoke in favor of Arrington locating his business at Newnan Street and named several examples of other businesses located in residential areas in the city.
Arrington himself then explained to the council that he had been up front about his intentions to open the business at the location and was never told it would be a problem.
“I did readily make it available that I planned on making my law office there. It has been known for weeks… months even,” Arrington stated. “Not once was I told to stop the remodeling… let’s go through a zoning process… let’s do this… let’s do that. What I am concerned with is that we’re going to backtrack. It was ran in the paper for four consecutive weeks. I also had discussions with various people before that and not once was I told to hold on or let’s look at this issue or let’s check it out. I would hope at this point that we’re to appoint a resolution and this can be resolved. I want to be here in Franklin.”
Arrington then told the council that he had already spoken with an attorney about taking action if the issues could not be resolved.
President of the Chamber of Commerce, Kathy Knowles told the council that she did not want to address any mistakes that had been made in the process but to impress upon the council that it is imperative that the community nurture small businesses such as the law office.
City attorney David Mecklin proclaimed that the council needed to try and solve the problem going forward. “A bell that has been rung can’t be unrung,” Mecklin stated in regards to alleged technical violation of the zoning ordinance.
After an executive session by the council to discuss the potential litigation issues, Mecklin addressed the situation but no action was taken.
“We do believe that mistakes have been made by the applicant/owner and perhaps some by the city also,” stated Mecklin. Mecklin suggested a resolution going forward by requiring a written certificate of zoning compliance prior to the issuance of a business license.
During Mayoral comments, Rogers offered an apology to the citizens and stated the city would try and do better in the future in regards to zoning. “I want to apologize to the people here in the city that this did happen and I will work diligently to keep this from happening again,” stated Mayor Rogers.