‘The Hill’ property use still not clear for nonprofits

‘The Hill’ property use still not clear for nonprofits

Franklin leaders are still undecided on what they want to see for a piece of city property that overlooks Bicentennial Park and Hillsboro Road.

During this week’s Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting, elected officials could only agree on the fact that they would like to see existing medal structure come down from the piece of property known as “The Hill,” which has sat vacant for a for a few years and was once Franklin’s Water Department and Fleet Maintenance location.

The metal building that once housed the two departments has occasionally been used for training for the Franklin Police Department, but has had no other uses. Potential uses include re-do the property while another wants to use the land for affordable housing.

The elevated property just north of Sonic above a retaining wall along Hillsboro Road offers one of the remaining birds-eye views into downtown and over Bicentennial Park. And with the corridor still under construction, city leaders will review a resolution that will defer any decision on the property. Property appraisals place the value from $1.82 to $2.55 million. The city purchased the land in 1981.

City Administrator Eric Stuckey said he could see the benefit in waiting on making any decisions, particularly when it comes to watching the traffic and further development of the park.

“The benefit to waiting is having a clearer understanding of how the infrastructure improvements might affect the view and the vision of the land,” he said. “You have some things known you may not have today. I think the other side of that is you start to set a direction you try to work toward, and you have certain proposals and that might take some time and effort to review. That’s the other side of the argument.”

But the two organizations who want to use the land don’t want to wait what could become two years to take action.

FrankTown Open Hearts, which wanted to convert the land into a hub for local nonprofits, said they simply wished the city would hear them out long enough to consider letting them re-do the property.

Previously, Hard Bargain, Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury County and the Community Housing Partnership of Williamson County collectively pitched to develop the site for workforce and affordable housing. They asked for the city to donate the property, but nonprofit leaders said they would pay for it as long as they could reach an agreement.

Some aldermen have already expressed they wouldn’t mind seeing housing on the hill. Community Housing Partnership executive director Stephen Murray said he wants the city planners to remember the land was a piece of the Hard Bargain neighborhood, and wanted them to consider putting housing on their list of options for the property. Prior to that, staff had established uses for the property with housing not included.

“Nowhere does city staff consider housing,” Murray said. “The proposal of affordable housing on the “The Hill” site has been endorse by 1,100 signatures on the online petition and on paper petitions for this proposal with signers from every ward in the city. It has also received a financial endorsement by the Williamson County Association of Realtors. We would ask that their concerns be voiced in this resolution at the same level of city staff’s that housing would be an appropriate use on The Hill property.”

Both parties also worry that waiting longer would lead to making the property more expensive and more complicated for both of their properties.

The Board of Mayor and Alderman could hear a resolution on which way to go later this summer.

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