TO THE EDITOR:
I am writing today out of concern for two bills that have been proposed in the House and Senate that aim to take away city and county rights regarding building design elements for single and two-family homes.
These bills are House Bill 476 and Senate Bill 520. Both should be of great concern to communities and homeowners that have good zoning and design regulations across Tennessee. The bills would take away a local jurisdictions’ ability to adopt residential building standards that support their adopted master land use plans. The scope of the bill has far reaching implications that will potentially change the look of neighborhoods and lower home values.
The bill specifically seems to be targeting “overregulation” and lacks support of the legislative delegation from Williamson County. It would gut Franklin’s approach to planning and development that has been a significant part of our success. Community design and standards have been a part of making Williamson County/Franklin the nation’s leader in job growth, and also significant permitted development. Over the past year, over 1,600 residential permits were issued. Including commercial buildings, the permitted development or investment in our community was $774 million over the past year.
We have taken great pride in working with developers and builders to streamline our processes. Services such as one-stop permitting, electronic plan submittal, and electronic inspection scheduling have all had positive results. Design professionals meet monthly with staff reviewing various issues and subjects. During the last legislative session, we worked closely with the homebuilders to craft vesting legislation on developments. We value the relationships that we have and work to establish transparency with citizens and business partners which include development professionals. Franklin’s standards were not developed in a vacuum, but were developed with community input, in public hearings and board meetings.
Franklin does not prohibit the use of specific exterior building materials, but takes into consideration citizen comments and engagement of development professionals. Material selection is based on the character of the neighborhood in order to maintain community and neighborhood characteristics.
An area of concern is existing subdivisions that are not under the control of an HOA, because of the stage of development, or because there is none. This bill would allow homes to be constructed that would not comply with the character of the development whether it be building materials or architectural features such as windows or garage placement.
We all have seen ugly homes which “stick out like a sore thumb.” Their context in a neighborhood lowers home values and pits neighbors against neighbors. HB 476/ SB 520 does not represent a positive approach to community building, but rather a negative force under the pretense of affordability and obstructions to developers. Our experience demonstrates that a city that provides community standards elevates a home’s value, generates civic pride, and provides an attractive quality of life for Franklin residents.
Dr. Ken Moore
Mayor, Franklin TN