November 17, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Franklin City Zoning

TO FRANKLIN CITY RESIDENTS:  

Cities, large and small, have zoning ordinances and zoning boards. City council members and zoning board members are in place to see that laws are obeyed, not to enable individuals or groups to circumvent or “bent” a law. Benefits of observing zoning laws outweigh disappointing an individual or group.

The Franklin Newnan Street zoning violation is a very serious matter. The property in question does not qualify for a variance in this residential neighborhood; this is a rezoning issue.

Allowing zoning and/or rezoning procedures to be ignored sets a dangerous precedence, not only for the city’s future liability but for law disobedience in other areas.

The property in question does not qualify for “Home Occupation” according to the following city zoning ordinance requirements: “No more than twenty-five (25%) percent of the floor area of the dwelling unit may be used in connection with a home occupation or for storage purposes in connection with a home occupation.” Of course the owner has to live there full time.

Another restriction is: “There shall be no exterior indication of the home occupation or variation from the residential character of the principal use.” (A large sign was erected by the property owner but was removed after the council meeting because neighborhood residents insisted. Will the sign be re-erected if the council grants permission for the business to operate here?)

The site has been prepared for off street parking as required in a “Home Occupation” by gravel placement in the front yard for two spots although it does not qualify.

During a council meeting a citizen gave an example of a business that might want to apply, a tattoo parlor. A zoning board member has verified that an individual was issued a business license for a Residential Home Occupation for tattooing in the past. The license was issued by the then mayor or the clerk before anyone knew about it. Anxious residents met with zoning board members and attended a crowded city council meeting. The license was retracted!

Why don’t citizens ask for a denial? Many don’t speak out because they fear ill-will from family and friends of the violator. If the violator were a stranger to the county, would city government and residents respond differently? Money spent should not be an excuse to ignore ordinances. Neither should “I’m sorry” be sufficient for special treatment. The law is impartial.

“Rent on the square is too high”, some individuals say. Is that a reason to disrupt a residential area? This question has been asked, “Is this problem a result of ‘Take action and ask forgiveness later’”?

I remember when the present mayor caused former Mayor Chapman to reschedule a called city council meeting because she failed to follow required procedure. I pray he is as diligent for following the letter of the law as he was then.

I am placing this information before readers because I care what happens to Franklin and its people, now and in the future.

 

Marilyn Bledsoe Ray (a Franklin City Property Owner and Part-Time Resident)

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