By MARINA WATERS
A Jonesborough construction site at the corner of Ben Gamble Road and Highway 11E has been a topic of discussion for residents, the Town of Jonesborough and the State of Tennessee. Now the site, that is owned by Danny Bailey and currently being graded for future construction, has received a notice of violation from the town.
“Danny Bailey did get brought into municipal court on the violation. The judge informed him that he had to seed and straw the area down within a certain time period,” Town Administrator Bob Browning said. “He ended up doing that, but the building inspector sent him a letter right after that court case in which he informed him that if the grass didn’t come up, (it) doesn’t meet the conditions.
“Because of the weather, it did not satisfactorily come up and he has been issued a new notice of violation that he has to stabilize the site. So he’s been given a period of time to do that again.”
The site is home to an unnamed stream that feeds into Little Limestone Creek. The stream sets just below slopes on the site and because deposits from the erosion of the slopes have been documented by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation as having made its way into the stream, Bailey was given the notice from TDEC in December of 2016. The site was in violation of the Clean Water Act which makes it “unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained.”
“Anytime you’re doing a development that’s close to a blue-line stream where there is actual water flowing, it’s a big deal and it is an issue,” Browning explained. “Twenty years ago there wasn’t nearly enough attention to soil erosion in the stream beds and stuff like that and the impact of siltation as a polluting factor in the stream. Jonesborough has a responsibility to pay attention to that.”
TDEC documents state that the property is still “out of compliance” as of the latest inspection conducted on March 21, 2017. In this report, the property failed to conduct twice-weekly inspections, stabilize slopes and all disturbed areas of the site and entrench some sections of the silt fence put in place to keep sediment from running into the nearby stream.
“While the transport of sediment is a natural function of a stream, in cases such as this where construction sites fail to properly retain sediment on site and such releases sediment-laden water, the resulting effect of siltation along the bottom of the stream can deny niche space and substrate required by benthic macro-invertebrates,” TDEC deputy communications director Kim Schofinski said. “If the siltation is serious enough, it can result in the stream partially or no longer able to support fish and aquatic life.”
Though the the Herald & Tribune was unable to reach Bailey, Browning said the property owner has been working to improve the issues with the site. Schofinski also confirmed that some improvements such as new erosion-control matting have been put in place.
“Danny Bailey is currently working on it and our goal is to get it stabilized. So as long as he is making progress in that area, then it’s not so much to get him in court as it is to get it stabilized,” Browning said. “So if he’s working on it, then we’re going to keep monitoring it, but allow enough flexibility to get it done in a reasonable time period, in a reasonable manner. And obviously weather impacts it.”
Rain has been a factor for the site. Though Browning said the weather has greatly improved since the issues Bailey faced during the winter, a large amount of rainfall could affect the site’s sediment deposit.
“Some places are still not entrenched properly,” Schofinski said. “During rain events, fences allow sediment-laden water to pass underneath and into the stream in those places that are not entrenched properly.”
Though the on-site logistics are at the forefront for the property, the future of the site is still slightly undetermined.
Browning said a plan to put a gas station on the site was discussed at a previous Jonesborough Regional Planning Commission meeting, but that it served as a reference point for what could be implemented on the site. Browning said there has not been a site plan including details on the building and parking areas that has been presented to the town through the planning commission.
Browning also explained that the property was zoned as a B6 (which serves as a business zoning) before The Meadows Subdivision was developed. He also said that the B6 zoning requires a “buffer zone” such as a line of trees between any potential business and residential areas.
As for the town, Browning said a safer option for motorists coming from New Hope Road—the next road past the construction site—might be something the town would look into. Because a left turn is unavailable from the road currently, the new business could provide a safer alternative.
“What we would like to see is a connection between New Hope Road connected to that development,” Browning said, “to where people who are driving on New Hope Road can come in and be able to access that signal in order to have a safe turn.”
Any plans for the site will be presented at future Jonesborough Regional Planning Commission meetings.