What is the Height Overlay District (HTO)?
The Height Overlay District (HTO) is a zoning overlay that allows a building to be constructed up to twelve (12) stories in height.
Why was the HTO created?
The ordinance creating the Height Overlay District was approved in 1997. The impetus of allowing 12- story buildings was in response to the desire of the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center to exceed the allowable building height. The new standard was reviewed and capped at twelve (12) stories, in part due to fire protection standards at the time. The 1997 ordinance establishing a new height maximum ushered in a new era of growth for Cool Springs and helped allow Franklin to become a premier destination for office development.
Where is the HTO District Located?
The HTO is mostly located between Carothers Parkway and I-65. Williamson Medical Center represents the southern-most parcel containing the overlay, and the Primus Building, located south of Bakers Bridge Road, represents the northernmost parcel. Even though Envision Franklin supports the HTO in the Goose Creek Character Area, currently no parcels in the Goose Creek Character Area (exit 61) contain the overlay.
How can a property get into the HTO?
The property owner must submit a rezoning request to add the HTO to the property. The rezoning process takes approximately four to six months and requires a recommendation from the Franklin Municipal Planning Commission (FMPC) and three readings by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA). Many parcels in close proximity to I-65 in Cool Springs and Goose Creek are eligible to request the HTO.
Why is the HTO important?
It allows buildings to exceed the maximum height permitted in the base zoning district and reach up to twelves stories. Building vertically instead of horizontally encourages efficient use of land, structured parking, open space preservation, and maximization of prime real-estate along I-65. Corporate offices, hotels, and regional retail/commercial are the primary uses desired near I-65, and the HTO helps encourage these uses.
Why update the standards?
1) The HTO District has not been studied or reevaluated since it was put in place in 1997. Cool Springs has undergone significant changes since that time and is now a regional hub for people to live, work, and play. During the Envision Franklin approval process, the City studied maximum building height along I-65 and created new recommendations for the location of the HTO District.
2) Despite the strong growth of office buildings since the late 1990s, the demand is exceeding the supply. Cool Springs has less than a 2% office vacancy rate and is home to several large publicly traded companies.
3) Property-owner driven requests create a piecemeal approach to the expansion of the HTO .
4) A property must be rezoned into the HTO before plans can be submitted for approval. The rezoning process takes approximately four to six months. Updating the district and its standards at this time could shorten the approval process for new development in this corridor.
What major changes are proposed?
The proactive expansion of the HTO District in areas that could potentially support additional height. This would eliminate many future HTO rezoning requests and create a predictable development form. Projects within the HTO would require Planning Commission approval.
What impact would this have?
Most of Franklin is at a low scale and Envision Franklin supports continuing this pattern of development. There are areas along the interstate corridor where taller buildings are appropriate to facilitate economic development. There is also potential for infill development of properties with expansive surface parking lots.
What if my property is already located in the HTO?
No properties currently in the HTO would be removed or experience a decrease in permitted building height.
What is the approval process?
Envision Franklin was approved by the FMPC on January 26, 2017. The Plan contains updated building height recommendations. The Planning Commissioners and Aldermen will discuss expanding the Height Overlay District at the March 23, 2017 Joint Conceptual Workshop and provide guidance to the staff. Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map will be needed. Zoning Ordinance text and map amendments require a recommendation from the FMPC and three readings by the BOMA. Notices will be mailed to property owners and those within 500 feet of properties being rezoned, with the time and date of the public hearing at the ensuing Planning Commission meeting.
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