Just the Facts

Town debates temporary use permits

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Emma Cait Breeden

Franklin held its monthly Town Council meeting on March 4, at which members largely focused on the text amendment for Temporary Use Permits.

“The purpose of this Temporary Use text amendment is to allow residence, temporarily, while somebody is building or renovating a house, in an RV, camper, or travel trailer while they are making the renovations,” said Town Planner Justin Setser

This topic did not face much debate, but Setser added, “Many people know it’s hard sometimes, if somebody’s moved here or needing to do some major renovations, to find somewhere to rent. This is another opportunity for people, so they can live on their property where they’re at.” 

The biggest concerns related to someone getting a permit involved obtaining one with no intention of building a house or taking advantage of the permit in other ways. Specific regulations were included to prevent both within the language of the text amendment.

“To get one of these permits, you must have a building permit pulled already with the county,” said Setser. “You have to show initiative.”

The Temporary Use Permit was previously approved within the planning board, and it was received positively by the Town Council.

“It allows people to use their land more freely,” said council member David Culpepper. Other regulations were discussed, such as the length of the Temporary Use Permit, to which Setser advised it would be initially issued for a period of 12 months, and then owners can get one, six-month extension.

Council member Rita Salain asked for further clarification on who would be allowed to live on the property, as well as how permit holders would be held accountable. Setser said that the people allowed to live on the property would be the land owners and that the town would only be responsible for ensuring that progress was being made.

Water lines or power sources will be cut off after 12 months (if no extension has been filed and approved). The Town Council adopted the text amendment allowing Temporary Use Permits, and members agreed to discuss a fee at the April 1 meeting, according to recommendations brought to them by Setser.

Women’s History Park funding request

Theresa Ramsey and Ann Hyder, members of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County (FHAMC), came before the Town Council to request funding for completion of the Women’s History Park.

“When we come before you and ask for additional funds for the park, that is for the landscaping of Franklin’s park,” said Ramsey. “We are now learning we have more expenses that our landscaper didn’t anticipate due to the increased cost of some supplies,” Hyder added.

The two reminded the council of their previous work in gathering private donations and raising funds for the park

and the “Sowing the Seeds of the Future” sculpture, to be unveiled March 23. The council responded to this request positively, and complimented the work the FHAMC has put into the park.

“It’s been done very properly and at a very high level … this is a nice park,” Culpepper said. “It’s been wonderful to see the town step up in such a fine way to make this work,” commented Salain. The Town Council approved the request for funding, which will cover the unexpected shortfalls to complete the landscaping.

When the public session opened, Renee Vargas, owner of Renee’s Cake Shoppe, came forward regarding downtown Main Street parking and lighting. With the limited parking, she expressed concerns about workers parking on the street all day long.

“There are people who work on Main Street, or work away from Main Street, who are parking in the parking spaces that customers could be using,” said Vargas.

Another area of concern was that portions of Main Street have little to no lighting, and the potential danger posed to employees or customers who leave businesses later at night.

Vargas explained that she, and most of her employees, park near the Smoky Mountain Pregnancy Care Center and worry about the walk being dimly lit and unsafe.

“We are just wondering if there’s some way that there could be consideration for lighting in that area and maybe down the little street going by the clocktower.” The council discussed Vargas’s concerns and expressed interest in finding solutions for the lack of lighting.

Two employees were recognized for their service to the Town of Franklin. Sgt. Laurie Beale (retired) was given the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest award given in the state of North Carolina to state employees who have shown exemplary service; and, Setser, who received a 10-year Service Award.

SGT. LAURIE Beegle (retired), was given the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, by Town of Franklin Police Chief Devin Holland.

Two new employees were introduced as well – Brandon Sutton, firefighter, and Tim Lee, utility maintenance worker.

Emma Cait Breeden is a senior and an honors student at Franklin High School.