The Franklin Riverwalk zoning ordinance was passed on Tuesday at a Board of Mayor and Alderman work session at city hall. The much-anticipated rezoning that could eventually increase the size of downtown by more than a square block is officially in the books.
It is set for two more readings and a public hearing on September 12, but the big hurdle of initial approval appears to be in the past.
The zoning plan, which will allow a sprinkling of development, trails and Harpeth River access points along a stretch of the river from near Pinkerton Park to the corner of Bridge Street and First Avenue North, got 6-1 approval from the BOMA.
The proposed ordinance would amend Section 3.5.6, the Central Franklin Character Overlay District, CFCO-1 standards, of the zoning ordinance to allow limited development within the floodway (fringe overlay district, or FFO).
The resolution amends standards to allow limited development opportunities to allow some flexibility for properties with business operations prior to federal and local floodplain regulations.
The Riverwalk Plan
The amendment would allow a network of multi-use pedestrian and bike paths that wind with the river from southeast of First Avenue down to Bridge Street, with more paths, in a circle on the south side of Main Street and east of First Avenue where there is a wider area of land currently not being used.
The amendment would allow for development in a few spots east of First Avenue South and south of the corner where First Avenue meets Bridge Street. Due to concerns about building within the 100-year floodplain, the only areas that can be developed are those no lower than the contour line of 630 feet above sea level. Downtown Franklin mostly sits at about 643 feet above sea level. The contour line of 630 feet is about a 150 feet from First Avenue South and gets closer and closer to the street before meeting it at the corner of First Avenue South when it turns east into Bridge Street.
Areas designated for possible development are a contiguous area fronting First Avenue South from the south end the property to East Main Street, zigging and zagging a bit with the contour line but gradually narrowing as it reaches Main Street. And then the other potentially developable area is a roughly half-acre square-shaped lot south of Bridge Street, where the contour line is only about 20 feet from the river.
The contour line in relation to the river also gets closer to the water as one goes north. A river walk will follow the river, with multi-use pedestrian paths shown in the big generally triangular shaped area between the river and 1st Avenue North down to Main street.
Plans also show an overlook south of Franklin Road before it crosses the river.
There are two river-access points for canoes or kayaks, one just north of the Franklin Road bridge over the river and the other on the far south part of the property.
In the developable areas, there will be a base zoning district, if the ordinance passes its required three readings, starting in June.
The base zone, which allows the same uses as the rest of downtown, makes a specific amendment to prohibit the building of assisted living facilities, correctional facilities, hospitals, nursing/convalescent homes, bed and breakfast establishments, hotels, boutique hotels, and residential use.
The actual riverwalk will be a minimum of 12 feet wide, but can shrink to as little as 8 feet in portions of the path to minimize disturbance to existing vegetation or environmental constraints.
Parking areas will be screened from the paths, and buildings will face both the street and the paths.
Larger versions of the concept plan can be found here.