Zinc mine buildings won’t be preserved

FRANKLIN. A majority of the Borough Council agrees to proceed with plans to redevelop the zinc mine site without preserving the three buildings there.

| 21 Jan 2024 | 08:10

A majority of the Borough Council has agreed to proceed with plans to redevelop the zinc mine site without preserving the three buildings there.

According to minutes of the council’s Jan. 2 meeting prepared for approval at its Jan. 23 meeting, “The consensus of the majority of the council is to direct the planner to amend the redevelopment plan without preserving the three buildings.”

The former New Jersey Zinc Co. site is on the west side of Main Street. Mining operations there ended in 1954. The site was used as a chemical plant until an explosion in 1977. It has been vacant since then.

During public comments Jan. 2, resident Judy Williams said she was disappointed in the council’s decision not to preserve the zinc mine site.

She pointed to the importance of the site in the previous century. “This was a model mining town and it set the standards for safety for the entire world,” she said, according to the minutes. “The zinc company did a lot of good for this town.”

Planner Jessica Caldwell Dykstra is working on redevelopment plans for that site and for 120 Route 23, site of a former Super Walmart.

She said a redeveloper is working with Ryan Homes, and their goal is to build up to 160 townhouses on the Route 23 property.

Officials sworn in

The Jan. 2 regular meeting followed the annual reorganization meeting where Mayor John Sowden IV and Councilmen Joe Limon and John Postas were sworn in for new terms.

Sowden, a Republican, defeated Shane Hrbek, an Independent, in the Nov. 7 election. He began a new four-year term.

Limon and Postas, both Republicans who were unopposed in their bids for re-election, began new three-year terms.

During the reorganization meeting, Councilwoman Rachel Heath was elected council president for 2024.

Franklin Fire Chief Michael Raperto and Fire Department officials also were sworn in.