As described in yesterday’s post, the October 31st public hearing regarding a zoning change to allow Mark Carstensen to construct a commercial center called The Shops at Wyndham Village at the corner of Drexel and Hwy. 100/Lover’s Lane faced some problems getting started due to overcrowding in the initially scheduled meeting room. Once everyone moved over to the library there were still people standing, but the meeting could proceed. (Yesterday's photo showed the room at the Law Enforcement Center; the photo above shows the library meeting room.)
The Plan Commission was not going to change the zoning of Carstensen’s land on that very evening; the Commission is an advisory body as it relates to zone changes, and the Franklin common council would ultimately make the decision. Also, the zone change - - basically from multi family residential to commercial - - would not mean that Carstensen could begin moving earth. He would still be responsible for the myriad impact studies (traffic, groundwater, etc.) and overall site plan review. However, none of that can go forward until the zoning situation is settled.
My disclaimer regarding my opinion on the project: I'm in favor of it for the most part because I believe it could be a wonderful addition to Franklin for many, many reasons. However, the main problem is one of location: the parcel of land that presented itself is in a bad spot as far as proximity to the literal civic center of Franklin, and it is right across the street from a subdivision full of high-end homes - - - you can imagine how they feel about the whole thing.
Here is PART ONE of my general notes from the looong evening in bullet form:
- The demographic of the people assembled was definitely (and predictably) “well-to-do.”
- As noted by at least one longtime city official, the entire meeting was incredibly civil given the amount of people who spoke out and the nature of the discussion.
- The material shown by Carstensen was impressively “new urbanist” in that two-story buildings (with office space on top) are possible if the market supports it, and the buildings are arranged to create a “main street” atmosphere.
- Carstensen assured the assembled that there would be NO WAL-MART, SHOPKO, SAM'S CLUB-type big-box on the property.
- The co-anchor store may be TARGET, which is a discomforting notion to the people who live across the street in the Wyndham Ridge subdivision.
- Carstensen had the owners of Sendik’s there to confirm that they were involved and reiterate that it’s important to have another strong anchor. Owner Tom Balistreri’s short comments ended on an ominous note: “I can say that I really would not want to be part of this center if we did not have another nationally known anchor.” A beat or two of silence followed before Carstensen resumed his presentation.
- Addressing traffic concerns, Carstensen proposed adding a median to the section of Drexel in front of the new development. A couple of speakers pointed out later that, geometrically speaking, there really is no room to do so without widening the road.
- Further on traffic concerns, Carstensen showed an elaborate gauntlet of medians, islands and turn lanes that would be placed at the Drexel entrance to the Wyndham Ridge subdivision in order to make it impossible for traffic to cut through the subdivision to get to the entrance to The Shops and Wyndham Village.
- On a humorous note, more than one citizen-speaker opened his or her remarks by saying; “I work for Mark Carstensen, but I’m not speaking tonight as his employee….”
By one count, fifty-five people spoke at the meeting. Some notes on their comments coming up in Part Two (along with some pictures of the development concept, hopefully) ...