After a recommendation to widen all sidewalks within city limits received a mixed response from some members of the Town Council earlier this month, Franklin’s Planning Board received new orders–to explore the possibility of making exceptions to the proposed ordinance.

The proposal was met with skepticism and apprehension by some on the council, and was ultimately sent back to town planners after roughly six minutes of discussion, along with the task of exploring exceptions for the policy. It was a rebound nearly two months in the making, after the Planning Board voted unanimously to amend changing the town’s minimum sidewalk requirements. Just to get that far, it underwent the formality of deliberations and uniformaly agreeing on what it considered to be true for the town as a whole.

All six members stated that the requirement would place all properties within city limits in the same category of public use of space. They went on to state together that there was “convincing demonstration that all uses permitted under the proposed district classification would be in the general public interest and not merely in the interest of an individual or small group,” according to the document. “Yes all residents and visitors would enjoy the wider and safer sidewalks.”

The board furthermore concurred that it was convinced that the “character of any neighborhood” would not be materially or adversely affected by the change, and that they would, in fact, “be enhanced by the better sidewalks”.

Nevertheless, in a few weeks time, it only took Town Board members a matter of minutes to state their own reservations with the policy.

“I feel like there are definitely areas where making a sidewalk five feet just wouldn’t work,” said David Culpepper.

Text amendment changing minimum sidewalk requirements was as follows; Raby made the motion, Ledford seconded to approve the text amendment as presented with text added to Section 1. Number 5 by that included wording that a variance on width shall be considered based on geographic or structural obstacles. If sidewalk is less than 60 inches there must be passing spaces every 200 feet.

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