Franklin planners close to agreement on changes

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:48

    FRANKLIN-The planning board's special subcommittee is making progress toward final changes in the borough's zoning ordinance, which could be ready for adoption at the board's regular Aug. 16 meeting. A recent subcommittee meeting involving three board members and other borough planning officials has apparently brought about at least some of the progress that was sought by the planning board. The board sent the matter to the committee after discovering it was not certain on many of the final specifications, including the layout and design, of the proposed Gateway Project off Main Street. Board Vice-Chairman Mark Zschack, who is a subcommittee member, said he feels progress has been made. "It took an extra meeting for two hours," he said. "We will be reporting on our decisions back to the board next meeting." Zschack declined to reveal any of the decisions made by the board prior to them becoming public record at the next planning board meeting, but did say at least some of the work dealt with the "transitional" issues pertaining to the two-tiered tract of land. The plot is expected to be developed both commercially and residentially to anchor the borough's long-awaited revitalization of the Main Street corridor. Because there is a gradual elevation change of about 60 feet between the two tiers of the former New Jersey Zinc Co. site, several planning officials had mentioned their concern about how high some of the buildings on the lower tract might rise. Under the basic development plans, no building can be taller than the old change house on the upper portion of the tract. But that could still allow eight-story buildings on the lower tract. The change house, deserted since the zinc company closed the Franklin mines on Sept. 30, 1954, is expected to be renovated into a commercial structure that both houses new businesses and helps to preserve the borough's historic mining past. The new, but as-yet-unofficial zoning ordinance states: "The change house building shall be preserved and integrated into the development. No new buildings on the upper section shall be larger in area (or height) than the change house."