Updated: Proposed Ordinance Would Ban New Warehouse Development In Township

Update: The Township Council introduced the ordinance as expected at its December 13 meeting.

Warehouses would be removed as a permitted conditional use in Franklin’s Business and Industrial Zone under a proposed ordinance set to be introduced at the December 13 Township Council meeting.

If it is enacted, the proposed ordinance would effectively ban all new warehouse development in the township.

Warehouse applications that have already been deemed as “complete” by the township planning department would be grandfathered.

The proposed measure would also effectively rescind an ordinance enacted in July, which limited where warehouses could be built in Franklin, and which spurred six ongoing lawsuits. The fate of those lawsuits once the ordinance amendments become effective is unclear.

The proposed ordinance contains a series of amendments to the township’s Land Development ordinance which take such actions as removing “warehouse” from the schedule of definitions, deleting “warehouses” as a purpose of the BI zone, removing warehouses from parking space and signage requirements, and removing “warehouses” as conditional uses in the zone.

“Franklin Township has experienced exponential growth in the amount of development applications for warehouses in the form of more than two dozen such applications for the development of new or expanded warehouses since 2018 which total several million square feet,” the proposed ordinance reads.

“(T)his exponential growth in warehouse development will create significant impacts to the quality of life in Franklin Township including but not limited to traffic impacts related to the capacity of the Township’s roadway network to handle the significant increase in truck traffic and additional negative impacts to sensitive land uses including noise and air pollution,” the proposed ordinance reads.

Warehouses have been a source of agitation for many residents over the past year, not the least of which is a group of Canal Walk residents who have formed a citizens’ group they call the Citizens’ Warehouse Action Group. The group formed in opposition to a warehouse project targeted for property near theirs, known as B9 Schoolhouse Road, but have since expanded their lobbying to be against all new warehouse development in the township.

Members of the group have appeared at a variety of township board and commission hearings to lobby against warehouses and the increasing prevalence of 18-wheelers on township roads.

Mayor Phil Kramer declined to comment on the proposed ordinance.

“Recent ordinances that we have passed have resulted in lawsuits that have quoted myself, Council members and members of the public in their filing,” he said. “Therefore, for the good of the town, I would defer to my attorney and planning  officer for any comments.”

Township principal planner Mark Healey and township attorney Lou Rainone could not be immediately reached for comment.

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