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Franklin approves FOP’s plan for lodge

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Johnson County’s Fraternal Order of Police chapter is hoping to move into a new lodge in Franklin about two years after losing their meeting place.

The organization, which is made up of about 116 members from local law enforcement agencies, is planning to move into a vacant office building at 1300 Graham St. by the first of the year, group secretary Scott Carter said. The Franklin board of zoning appeals approved two variance requests to allow the organization to use the building, and now the organization can buy the building, Carter said.

The Fraternal Order of Police used to rent a building in Whiteland that was owned by the Pleasant Township Assessor. The group wanted to buy the building about two years ago, but when it was put up for auction, the fraternity was outbid and had to move out, fraternity president Randy Werden said.

The Johnson County Shrine Club has been allowing the fraternity to use its lodge for monthly meetings since that time, Carter said.

Having a lodge would allow the organization to have its own building for meetings and a site to host annual fundraiser programs, Carter said.

The organization provides support to members who are sick or unable to work, but also participates in local charity programs, such as Shop with a Cop, and supports other local nonprofits such as the Benevolent and Fraternal Order of Elks or Shrine Club, Carter said.

The city approved a use variance to allow the lodge to locate in the area that is zoned for industrial use. The board of zoning appeals also will allow the Fraternal Order of Police up to 18 months to pave the gravel parking lot.

The organization cannot remodel the garage at the Graham Street building into more usable space unless additional parking spaces are added at the site, Franklin senior planner Joanna Myers said.

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