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Council approves purchase of Franklin properties

Council approves purchase of Franklin properties

Franklin Town Council recently approved purchasing two parcels of land in the downtown area for a total cost of $206,660. 

In a 4-1 vote with Councilmember David Culpepper opposing, the town council approved purchasing the former Texaco property at 196 West Palmer Street for $180,000. 

“I think $180,000 is well over market value for the property,” Culpepper said. 

Councilmember Joe Collins agreed but added that the town really needs the property near its police department and fire department for future utility expansions.

“I’m having a hard time thinking it’s really worth the price we’re willing to pay for it — especially to the average person — but I’d have a harder time if someone came and bought it at that price or a lesser price,” Collins said. “With enough years, I think the sting of paying a few dollars more than I think we should will go away, and for that reason I will be in favor of the purchase.”

Councilmember Jack Horton said there were some concerns about potential environmental issues on the property but that the town had been assured that there are no underground oil tanks or contamination issues. The town has a letter from the Department of Environmental Resources stating “no further actions” are required for the property. 

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“(The property) is important to future town utilities — we’ll need to reroute a sewer line soon  through there and it’s close to the police department and fire station,” Horton said. 

The town purchased the property, which is 0.67 acres, from the Sloan family. The town will pay for the property out of fund balance. 

The second piece of property the town voted unanimously to purchase was 0.43 acres at 311 Clyde Street that adjoins the town’s water towers in East Franklin. Town Attorney John Henning Jr. said the owner Jerry Porter was willing to sell the parcel to the town at tax value — $26,660.

“This property has a clear advantage for future expansion,” he said regarding the town’s water and sewer infrastructure. 

Since the purpose of buying the property is for future water and sewer infrastructure, the town will pay for it with revenue from the water and sewer enterprise account. 

In other business, the town will move forward with enforcing its minimum housing standards in response to complaints about an abandoned home located at 118 Wilkie Street. Town Planner Justin Setser told the town council neighbors have been complaining about the house since September 2019. He received an administrative search warrant to inspect the property, which was deemed dilapidated. Renters had been living there prior and had left most of their belongings behind when they were evicted. Setser met with the owner in the fall and ended up granting an extension since he was ensured cleanup work would begin. 

“At first the owner worked with us and did clean up a lot of the garbage on the property and removed several of the junk cars, but cleanup stopped after Thanksgiving, and we haven’t had any communication with the property owner since that time,” he said. “It’s exceeded 90 days. I need the council to give legal direction to move forward at this point.”

Henning said the town would need to file a lawsuit in order to get the owner to demolish the home. If the owner refuses, the town can seek a judgment and get permission to demolish the home and then go after the owner to reimburse the town for the cost. 

Setzer said the house was valued at $33,660 but is now valued at $690. The board voted unanimously to file the lawsuit and start the proceedings. 

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