In Surprising Turn of Events, Franklin Council Rejects Zoning Request from Venango County

| October 8, 2019

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – In a surprising turn of events, the Franklin City Council rejected a request from Venango County to rezone the area of the old Lutheran Church near Eighth and Elk Streets from an R2 Residential Zone to a TRC Transitional Zone.

At the September meeting, the proposed zoning changed originally seemed to pass with a 3-2 vote with Mayor Doug Baker and Council Members Fred Mays and James Johnson voting in favor of the change, Council Members Donna Fletcher and Ryan Rudegeair apposing the change and Council Members Sam Lyons and Mike Dulaney absent from the meeting.

But, because the measure didn’t get the required majority of all council members – not just those present – it was actually defeated. At that time, Fletcher agreed to bring it back up at the October meeting for a revote, where it was expected to pass considering the zoning change passed on a first-reading basis in August with a 5-2 vote with both Dulaney and Lyons joining Mays, Baker and Johnson in voting yes.

However, at October’s meeting Monday, October 7, both Dulaney and Mays changed their votes from yes to no citing feedback they had received from their constituents.

“I have had people come up to be and say they oppose it,” Dulaney said.

Mays said he had heard the same thing.

Rudegeair, meanwhile, continued to oppose it because of the fact Venango County had asked for and received a zoning change for the same purpose at another location in Franklin earlier in the year only to back out of that location and go to the old Lutheran Church location.

Fletcher said she opposed the rezoning based on the fact the County wanted to put some housing in the location, and she said the County “does a poor job with tenants.”

At the September meeting, Pat Owoc, the Housing Unit Manager for Venango County, said the county had plans to use the building in a number of ways including for County storage, employee training, and meeting space and another part of it for transitional housing – three apartments – for small families to get those families into permanent housing.

In the transitional housing portion, Owoc said he couldn’t give an exact time frame for families in the apartments but generally it is in the 80- to 90-day range.

At a hearing before the September meeting, Joe Jasiota, who lives at 740 Liberty Street next to the building, expressed some concerns about the county’s plans.

“My concern with the proposal is that with transitional units, you will have a group of people without any vested interest in the area,” Jasiota said. “It infringes upon my privacy and the value of my property.”

According to Jasiota, currently, the use of the facility is tolerable because the Salvation Army free lunches are only for a limited number of afternoon hours three days a week.

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Category: Local News, News