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City pledges to help with subdivision but won’t pay $2 million

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A developer planning a Franklin subdivision isn’t getting $2 million in tax dollars he requested but plans to build the neighborhood anyway.

Developer John Grimmer asked the city redevelopment commission to help pay for infrastructure, such as roads, sewer pipes and utilities, at the 145-home Homesteads at Hillview subdivision he plans at Eastview Drive and Upper Shelbyville Road.

Members of the board and the mayor had said they were against spending that much money, and Grimmer said he might abandon plans for the development because the costs would be too high. But Grimmer now plans to continue with the development, and the city plans to help, but on a reduced level.

Franklin Redevelopment Commission members and Mayor Joe McGuinness agreed to help pay for a nearly $200,000 walking trail along Eastview Drive from Upper Shelbyville Road. How or when it will be built is undecided. The city is applying for a state grant, which would allow it to build

3.5 miles of trails around the northeast side of Franklin, including from King Street and Eastview Drive to Commerce Drive and U.S. 31.

If the city gets that money, the trail along Hillview would be included. Otherwise, the redevelopment commission would pay to have it built, with tax dollars collected in the city’s tax-increment financing, or TIF, districts.

With the grant, Franklin would pay 20 percent of the total cost, and the grant would pay the rest.

The Hillview trail would cost $194,685, according to a project estimate from developer Mike Duke, who is doing the site preparation and infrastructure work for the subdivision. That would pay for site preparation, design, the asphalt walking trail, benches, bike racks and landscaping. The trail would connect to the Franklin Greenway Trail near Needham Elementary School and link with an existing sidewalk in front of Traditions Apartments.

All new developments are required to have a sidewalk that runs around the property, but the city is willing to pay to upgrade to a wider, landscaped walking path. The city is working to connect all of its trails and sidewalks to create a walkable loop around Franklin, and building the trail at Hillview would help reach that goal, McGuinness said.

“The request from Homesteads at Hillview fits in with our overall plan. The east side has been neglected,” McGuinness said.

Grimmer has not made other requests for assistance with infrastructure, and other projects such as sewer or water line extensions aren’t being considered, CrossRoad Engineers vice president Trent Newport said. Grimmer plans to continue building the subdivision, but development may be slow because of the cost, he said.

The subdivision will be developed in three phases. The first would include 33 no-maintenance, cottage-style homes, called Village Green, and five single-family homes on the northeast end of the property. The second phase would include 84 single-family lots in the center of the land; and the third phase, on the south end, would be for 23 single-family homes on slightly larger lots. Target prices for the homes would be $250,000 to $300,000 for the cottage homes and $400,000 for single-family homes.

The city needs to approve a planned unit-development for the subdivision, which is a special type of zoning. The special zoning is needed for Hillview because the subdivision will overlap with the golf course at Hillview Country Club and will provide a new access road to the course, Franklin senior planner Joanna Myers said.

Duke said that if plans are approved he plans to start preparing the lots in the spring.

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