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Proposed Development In Francis Encounters Controversy, Negative Vote.

A proposed development, Francis Commons, went before the Francis Planning Commission on January 21st.

After a public hearing, Planning Commissioners unanimously voted to send on a negative recommendation to City Council.

The applicant, Kit Burton, from the firm Wild Willow Limited, asked for rezoning of nearly 18 acres, west of Highway 32 and near the intersection where 32 makes a right turn, heading west.

The city staff reported the parcel is under what’s called a “Residential-Half” zone, which now would allow 35 single-family homes.

The applicant asked for a change to three zones, for a project with a total of 140 units.

The proposal includes 4 acres designated in Francis’ City Center Zone, adjacent to the highway, with 8600 square feet of commercial and 74 units of multi-family or townhomes.

A second zone, Multi-family, would have 34 townhomes.

And a Cottage Zone, at the western and northern edge, would have 32 single-family homes.

In a statement read to the meeting, developer Burton said the city approved a multi-use project there in 2007.  Burton sued the town in 2011.  A legal settlement five years later said he retained the right to develop the land, processing under the then-current ordinances of the town.

The electronic public hearing brought out nearly 20 people who criticized the project.    Generally, they said the proposal was compromising the rural feel of Francis, adding too much population to the town and creating impacts for roads, schools and other items.