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Franklin leaders work on plans for river district

The town of Franklin wants to tap into the economic and environmental value of its rivers. It's proposing a river district to attract retail, restaurants and walkable spaces for residents and tourists, alike. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The town of Franklin wants to tap into the economic and environmental value of its rivers.

It's proposing a river district to attract retail, restaurants and walkable spaces for residents and tourists, alike.

Many businesses along the Little Tennessee River like the idea.

“I think if we can have some restaurants and some storefronts on the river, I think it will be good for what we're known for, which is tourism,” said Doug James, of Realty World Desoto Trail.

“As we say in the brewing industry a lo, a rising tide raises all ships,” Taylor Yates, at Currahee Brewing Company, said.

But some people said the proposal that would not allow existing storage units along the river to rebuild in case of a catastrophe is too restrictive.

Under the proposal, they could operate "as is" until they make renovations or redevelop.

“We've got some storage units up the street, and I don't know from a real estate professional's opinion, it doesn't really meet the highest and best use for the land,” James said.

Some business owners worry proposed requirements about sidewalks and landscaping could scare off new development.

Town leaders took in all the comments at a public hearing and will make adjustments.

“We're going to look at that and see where we can make some changes,” Franklin town planner Justin Setser said. “As a whole, even the people that had concerns, they all said they like the idea. They want to see it happen. They just want, needs a little more work.”

“I think we can work some things out. I'm hopeful we can because the river is just invaluable,” Franklin mayor Bob Scott said.

“If there's some stuff that gives people some more options, then more people will show up and everybody will win,” Yates said.

Town Council heard the concerns Monday, and it has sent the proposal back to the Planning Board for revision.

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