New State Law Forces Franklin to Remove Affordable Housing Policy

affordable housing ruling

By EMILY R. WEST

Due to a new state law, city officials are taking steps to remove a policy from its books that helped benefit affordable housing.

During Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting, the group voted unanimously to remove its inclusionary zoning policy to align with state law. The change in state law resulted after this legislative session.

Rep. Glen Casada (R-Thompson’s Station) pushed forward the law that now prohibits municipalities from enacting zoning regulations specific to affordable housing requirements. The new law no longer allows governments to mandate a percentage of existing or newly constructed units as affordable or workforce housing.

As its written now, Franklin’s ordinance includes only developers coming back wanting more density.

Any increase would mean one of two options. Either the developer would build 10 percent of the new units affordably or pay what’s called a fee-in-lieu-of. The money paid in goes into an existing fund used to help affordable housing projects across the city.

“I think the board should follow state law whether we like it,” Ward Two Alderman Dana McLendon said. “I think our best and most sustainable way to create the opportunity for affordable housing is to permit it. I have said it going on 20 years from now. All we need to do is have the political courage to allow it.”

Franklin’s housing advocates warned that removing the ordinance could become detrimental to the city’s ability to deal with affordable housing initiatives. Before the law passed, Franklin’s Housing Commission sent a letter to the legislature, asking Casada to reconsider.

Removing the ordinance will also take away the fund that supplied money to affordable housing projects across the city.

“This board has been given the option to help many entities with that ordinance, and it’s no longer an option for us at this time,” At-Large Alderman Pearl Bransford said.

BOMA will have to approve the measure one more time in order for the removal of the ordinance.

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