I have grave concerns about how our city is growing. I just read about the new plans for the old Post Office site and I am horrified. That does not even say what I am feeling in my gut. I have lived on Oak Street at Franklin for 42 years and I fear we are scheduled to be gobbled up by thoughtless development.
Development can be a very positive thing for a town. But this new structure will impinge greatly on what has now become a buffer zone between Downtown, our business sector, and Old Town/Napa Abajo, an historic residential neighborhood. It will forever change the character of this beloved and historic part of town.
The city has already allowed “bed and breakfasts” to make this area almost commercial by allowing more and more rooms to turn structures, such as the property on the south east corner of Randolph and Oak Streets, into small hotels. This impacts the neighborhood by creating parking problems for residents, more traffic and noise pollution. And the number of rooms in these properties is in addition to AirBnB permits.
When at a recent planning meeting, the staff was faced with the actual number of these kinds of rentals, researched by a resident, they were clearly shocked.
The blocks between First and Oak Streets are fragile. They are a buffer zone but one that should be treated with care, not just considered ripe for development. They are zoned commercial but let them be developed in a thoughtful way that considers things like height, light pollution and the impact on the adjacent neighborhoods.
The residents in Napa Abajo have been very, very vocal about what they want and what they don’t want. But the planning committee has not been receptive and Gordon Huether has labeled it “anti-tourist,” which is not the case at all. I, myself, take great pride in visitors walking through the neighborhood and complimenting me on my home.
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I think all of us welcome the resurgence of energy and life in our downtown area. However, there must be some care taken in what is allowed to impinge on our residential neighborhoods.
I have to make the observation, too, that the Register seems to have a bias that supports a kind of growth “more growth is good” and has not accurately reported the comments of the residents of our part of town at planning meetings.
I hope the residents of Napa will rally around this precious asset, Napa Abajo, and realize that some of the upcoming projects near the designated boarders in this part of town could change the feeling of the whole town altogether.
Please make yourselves aware of what is upcoming on the calendar to be built in our town. Go to a planning meeting. We all have a voice and our elected and appointed leaders need to hear them.