FRANKLINTON -- The town's Board of Commissioners adopted an initiative to spur downtown development.
The five-prong approach, which will be deployed over the next six months, will be pivotal in reviving the area, said Town Manager Gregory Bethea.
"We're at a critical stage," Bethea said. "We've had fits and starts with activity there. Now, we're starting to see some activity with commercial development. To spur that along, we've got five new policies that we want to start over the next six months."
• The Franklinton Facade Program, which would provide a one-time $1,000 grant to help businesses make repairs/improvements to their buildings. The grants -- the town will make available $15,000 -- will be doled out on a first-come, first-served basis, Bethea said;
• Turning the designated downtown area into a permit-free zone, meaning the town will waive any of its zoning or subdivision ordinance fees for new buildings or for building repair or upgrade;
• The town will undertake an improvement plan to repair sidewalks, upgrade its pocket park and undertake repainting of parking lines, crosswalks and locating a flagpole downtown. Also the town would improve lighting, place banners, provide benches and install better trash receptacles downtown.
Also, the town would work with the State Department of Transportation, Bethea said, to update street signs, improve parking and resurfacing and/or do some striping on Main Street as part of the rebranding process;
• Also, as part of an effort to promote downtown, the town would call upon its newly created Downtown Committee to provide directional signs, free parking and billboard signage along U.S. l touting downtown Franklinton and the businesses there;
• The final prong is to collect taxes generated in the newly designated Municipal Service District -- essentially the downtown area, as outlined in the most recent budget -- and make sure they are re-directed back into efforts to improve downtown.
"We want to further encourage increased investment," Bethea said.
The overall plan is expected to cost the town between $100,000 and $200,000 to implement.
The initiative was approved by unanimous decision.
"It is a major investment in the downtown," Bethea said. "We're excited to be able to make it. With an increasing population, it's just a matter of time with commercial development and we want to help make that happen."