Protection file

Franklin releases draft historic overlay district protection guidelines ahead of potential adoption

A sign protesting a proposed Franklin Grove Estate & Garden adaptive reuse project outside a house on North Margin Street inside the city’s historic overlay area. The city released draft revisions to its design guidelines for historic districts on March 10 before the city considers whether or not to adopt changes to the rules. (Martin Cassidy/Community Impact Journal)

After extensive review, the City of Franklin released final draft revisions to the design guidelines for historic neighborhoods in the city on March 10 before considering adopting the changes.

The guidelines are the rules used to determine whether proposed exterior changes to buildings in the city’s local historic overlay areas are compatible with preserving the historic integrity of the areas.

The updated guidelines will be reviewed by the Historic Zoning Commission’s Design Review Committee at a meeting at 4 p.m. on March 21 and by the full Historic Zoning Commission at 5 p.m. on April 11. Both meetings will be held at Franklin City Hall, 109 Third Ave. S., Franklin, depending on the city.

The modifications to the directives will then have to be definitively approved by the College of Mayors and Aldermen of the city on a date yet to be determined.

The goal of the update that began in September 2020 is to create a more user-friendly, graphics-focused document for use by homeowners, landlords and design professionals in Franklin’s historic neighborhoods, according to the introduction of the draft document.

Franklin has four National Register Historic Districts and seven locally designated Historic Districts. Local historic districts are collectively considered the city’s historic preservation overlay district, which requires that any proposed exterior alterations to buildings be evaluated by the city’s Historic Zoning Commission to determine if they meet the guidelines.

If a review by the historic zoning commission finds that a proposed project does not meet the guidelines, the commission can refuse the work a Certificate of Adequacy, an obstacle that can often delay or threaten the work’s approval by the planning commission or council of mayor and aldermen.

The final version of the Historic District Design Guidelines Update is available on the city’s website here.

The updated bylaws incorporate both citizen feedback on polls, office hours and public meetings and feedback from the Historic Zoning Commission on needed changes, according to the city.