Vassanella: Township Needs To Be Aggressive Against Warehouses

Township Councilman James Vassanella said at the November 22 Council meeting that the Township should be more aggressive in limiting new warehouse development.

Township government needs to be more aggressive in finding ways to stop the influx of warehouses in Franklin, a Township Councilman said on November 22.

Councilman James Vassanella (D-Ward 5) made the comment during a Township Council meeting in response to pleas from members of an anti-warehouse citizen’s group based in the Canal Walk 55-plus development.

The residents had a number of requests – such as banning 18-wheeled trucks from certain roads and instituting a curfew of truck deliveries starting at 10 p.m. – but the most far-reaching was the moratorium on new warehouse development, at least until a study on the health effects of warehouses can be completed.

Vassanella, who has become more vocal in his opposition to warehouses over the last several meetings, said he would like to see the Council do what it can to stem the development of more warehouses in Franklin.

“Generally speaking, you probably can’t say, you can’t ever build anything, warehouse-wise … but you can get fairly aggressive, and I personally would support … I mean, if the attorney brings in a study that says we’re going to be torn up in court, that’s one thing … I would like to see us be as assertive as possible, shut down to whatever possible degree the township has the home-rule authority to do, any warehousing anywhere,” he said.

“We have to start making sure we are getting not only everything we deserve, but everything we want when it comes to developers,” Vassanella said.

“I personally would take any aggressive step we can, via ordinance … to slow down, and to bring to very slow if not a halt to warehouse applications, and keeping a tight control on the ones that are going through the process right now,” he said.

Vassanella’s remarks drew a round of applause from the dozens of Canal Walk residents who attended the meeting.

Councilwoman Kimberly Francois said that the Council needs to consider what it can do in terms of slowing down warehouse development.

“All of us have been very, very concerned about the fact that we need to do more, and we’re trying to figure out what we can do,” she said.

Mayor Phil Kramer said that steps are being taken, but they’re not all in the public view.

“We have heard you,” he said. “One thing I do when I play cards is I don’t like to show my hand. I’m discussing things with the Council members, I’m discussing things with (Township Manager) Mr. Vornlocker, I’m discussing things with our township attorney to see what we can do.”

“While I’m not afraid of a lawsuit, I’m not going to go into a lawsuit that I know I’m going to lose,” he said. “That’s just a waste of our time and you’re money.”

The Township is facing six lawsuits over an ordinance the Council hastily passed last summer which limits where warehouses can be built.

“It may look like we are doing nothing, but we are doing things and working towards that goal,” he said. “We are doing what we can. I know it may not look like that, but hopefully you will see that in due time.”

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