Sam Greenwood has been around the governmental block a few times. He twice served as Macon County’s manager, and after retiring he promptly returned to the ranks of bureaucracy again, this time as the town of Franklin’s manager.
So it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that Greenwood, that grizzled veteran of local government, has been working to position Franklin ahead of a probable state change that would complicate how towns annex. Which would mean the creation of new hurdles for towns seeking to broaden their tax bases. And that could result in less money for towns to provide services to its residents.
This is more or less why Franklin in July annexed more land and businesses, in preparation for this next phase: to extend its extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), or the area of land — the urban-rural fringe, as it has been called — in which town leaders can plan and regulate development. State law allows towns that are Franklin’s size a one-mile ETJ. With the latest annexation, Franklin extended where the ETJ could go, because the one-mile measurement starts at the town’s official borders.
Those being placed in a new ETJ don’t have to pay town taxes. That’s a point Franklin Town Planner Michael Grubberman takes great pains to emphasize. Additionally, it is those future businesses — some perhaps not yet even envisioned — that will be expected to adhere to the same appearance standards as businesses built in town.
This extension of the ETJ, in large part, is also intended to knit together the disparate parts of Franklin. Pockets of annexation have taken place over the years. A business — the Ford dealership on U.S. 441 north of town is a good example — would ask the town to annex, and of course, provide it town services. Franklin would oblige. In doing so, gaps were left between the official borders and these newer additions.
“The town grew in dribs and drabs,” Greenwood said.
(An involuntary annexation of 88 land parcels is also under way in Franklin. An information meeting is scheduled for Nov. 22 at 5:30 p.m., and a public hearing will be held the following month. In a memo, Grubberman noted to the town board that the annexation involves “commercially developed parcels that are contiguous to the main body of town as well as parcels that we already surround that are not annexed, or that are partially annexed.”)
The ETJ, as proposed, does not a tidy one-mile circle make. Greenwood, Grubberman, and the town’s elected officials are focusing on controlling the commercial corridors: U.S. 441 south; U.S. 441 north; along the upper reaches of Highlands Road; out U.S. 64, and so on.
“We’re pretty much looking to shoot one mile out down the corridors,” Greenwood said.
At least one business owner, Debbie Drake (no kin to the other Drake family in Macon County) of Carolina Motel south of Franklin, believes this is a good idea. A native of Pennsylvania, she moved to Macon County after a layover in Florida. Uncontrolled, unfettered growth, Drake said, is a blight on a town’s beauty.
“If you don’t take steps to control zoning and the people moving in, you have the masses of people doing whatever they want to do,” she said. “And this is such a beautiful, quaint town.”
Want to know more?
A public hearing on the proposed extraterritorial jurisdiction for Franklin is scheduled for Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. at town hall.