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Franklin works on plans to handle population growth

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Franklin has started work creating a plan that’s meant to improve the city’s infrastructure and zoning as its population grows during the next 10 years.

The city is creating a comprehensive plan that will include residents’ input on what kind of improvements they’d like to see, such as road construction and rezoning for businesses and neighborhoods, as well as ideas on how to make those improvements, Mayor Joe McGuinness said.

The city last created a comprehensive plan in 2002, which included a plan to improve the city’s entrances, build a better relationship between the city and Franklin College and add to the trail system, McGuinness said.

Some items in the plan have become outdated, such as updating streetlights in the city so they shine downward, but other projects in the 2002 plan still are being completed, such as improving the roads that lead into the city, known as the gateway project, McGuinness said.

Franklin hired a contractor for $60,000 to put the new plan together, and city officials want to have it finished within 12 months.

McGuinness said he hopes Franklin will be able to add projects to the plan as the city’s population grows and more developers look to build in the city.

In the past 10 years, the city’s population has increased by about 22 percent, and city officials expect more of an increase in upcoming years, McGuinness said.

That growth means the city needs to decide where new neighborhoods, office complexes and other buildings should be built so industrial parks are not built near neighborhoods, McGuinness said.

The comprehensive plan will help residents, business owners and city officials decide where new buildings should be and make sure the city’s zoning rules allow those buildings to be constructed, planning director Krista Linke said.

“We can’t predict what’s going to happen, but we can create an environment that’s conducive to economic growth,” McGuinness said.

He said having areas already zoned for businesses and neighborhoods could attract developers to build in those areas because they would not have to get them rezoned.

The comprehensive plan also will look at improvements residents believe the city needs in public safety, road construction, job growth, public parks and other issues, McGuinness said.

The city plans to conduct multiple public meetings before and after a draft of the plan is created to hear what residents want to see done, Linke said.

During meetings in 2002 for the previous comprehensive plan, residents told city officials they wanted more trails and the establishment of a tree board, both of which have been done, McGuinness said.

The mayor said most projects included in the plan will not be started right away, but having initial designs and ideas for the projects will allow the city to get federal and state funding for them more easily.

“It’s something to build off of,” McGuinness said.

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