PHOTO: Aldermen (from left) Ann Petersen, Scott Speedy and Dana McLendon take part in the work session that preceded Tuesday night’s Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting. / Photo by John McBryde
By JOHN McBRYDE
The Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 6-1 Tuesday night to approve the annexation process of property on Long Lane, a move that would possibly result in the opening of a local counseling center that would be adjacent to the Ladd Park subdivision near the Williamson County Ag Expo Center.
As they have done in recent meetings and at BOMA’s Dec. 11 work session, several residents of Ladd Park and other subdivisions in the Long Lane area spoke out against the annexation and specifically the relocation of the Refuge Center for Counseling from its current facility on Forrest Crossing Boulevard. Those in support of the new facility have spoken as well, including a four-year resident of Ladd Park, Steve Abernathy, Tuesday.
“I’m in favor of the Refuge Center locating here,” said Abernathy, who spoke during the public comment part of the meeting. “I believe the Refuge will be a welcome addition. I think it could create a buffer for our neighborhood.”
Abernathy, however, was followed by five residents who were thumbs-down on the idea, citing the facility’s impact on property values, traffic and other concerns.
Ladd Park resident Scott Myers said he lives directly across from the proposed location of the Refuge Center, and he suggested a location on Liberty Pike would be preferable for all concerned.
“It would be a win for the Refuge, a win for their clients, a win for the donors that support the Refuge,” he said. “It would be a win for the city of Franklin and, most of all, it would be a win for the residents of Long Lane and Ladd Park.”
The Refuge Center for Counseling, a nonprofit mental health organization that provides affordable counseling to those in need, has been in Franklin since it opened in 2005. It is seeking to build a new 15,000-square-foot facility that would include multiple buildings, including a lodge with 32 counseling offices, a prayer labyrinth, and 4 acres of walking trails.
Tuesday’s vote didn’t directly give the green light for the Refuge Center to start shoveling dirt, but some of the aldermen did seem to align with the idea of its relocation with their approval for the annexation step. Third Ward Alderman Scott Speedy, for instance, countered Myers’ negative assessment of the facility.
“I didn’t know the Refuge Center existed until about three months ago, and they’re in my subdivision (Forrest Crossing). I’ve heard about the traffic concerns and I’ve never seen any traffic come out of that place during the day, and I can say my property values have appreciated in the last nine years.
“I appreciate the comments from Mr. Myers, but I really don’t think looking at an alternate site is something this board is responsible for.”
Alderman-At-Large Ann Petersen was the lone vote against the annexation.