Franklin leaders prompt Williamson legislators to ‘vote no’ on new construction bill


Franklin leaders prompt Williamson legislators to ‘vote no’ on new construction bill

By EMILY R. WEST

A bill in the legislature that could do away with design elements for communities has met strong opposition from Franklin elected and preservation leaders.

HB 476, proposed by Rep. Marc Gravitt (R-East Ridge), prohibits application of zoning regulations relating to building design elements for certain dwellings. This primarily affects new construction.

As written, the legislation would define design elements as exterior building color, type or style of exterior cladding material; style or materials of roof structures or porches; exterior non-structural architectural ornamentation; and location or architectural styling of windows and doors. The law wouldn’t affect historic overlay districts. It’s fiscal impact would be minimal.

In essence, here is what the bill would do according to its summary:

This bill adds to those provisions a prohibition on the application of any zoning and development regulation relating to building design elements adopted under the zoning law, or under any zoning plan recommendation made by a planning commission, to any structures for one-family or two-family dwellings subject to regulation in the International Residential Code, published by the International Code Council, Inc.

At the Williamson, Inc. Public Affairs Roundtable on Friday morning, both Franklin Mayor, Ken Moore, and Heritage Foundation executive director, Mary Pearce, said they would like to see them rally for the legislation to fail on the House and Senate floors.

“We’ve invested too much to have something like this erode Franklin,” Moore said. “It’s not good for Franklin and I ask that you stop it. It would likely lower home values in our area. It would affect many character neighborhoods in our community. There are multiple materials used on homes. If this passes, builders could build houses with minimal architectural elements and use any type of building material.”

Pearce has worked for decades in Franklin for preservation, and said she didn’t find anything broken with the way design review works now.

“So why fix what isn’t broken?” she asked. “They are proposing there be no design review for new construction. They tried to get historic design review killed a couple of years ago. This time they said you could have historic zoning but nothing else. The counties doing well on design review really like it, and it’s been good to us. Stepping up to the plate and doing great design is what creates the market. I ask that you actively be against it. There’s no reason in my mind to fix something that isn’t broken.”

As of March 28, the bill was referenced to the calendar and rules committee and recommended for passage.

Emily West covers the City of Franklin, education and the state legislature for the Franklin Home Page. Contact her at emily@franklinhomepage.com. Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.

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