By COLLIN BROOKS
While the plans have yet to be approved, the talk of a gas station at the corner of Ben Gamble Road and 11-E has Jonesborough resident Charles Wyman concerned.
According to town records, the Jonesborough Regional Planning Commission has only approved the grading plan on the land, but a preliminary site plan shows a detailed illustration of a multiple pump convenience store.
An underground stream sits just a couple hundred feet beside the plot.
“I’m just trying to be a voice in the wilderness — does that effect me, who lives in the Meadows? No. but I thought about all of those people in the county, they don’t even have a clue that their stream could be affected,” he said.
No timetable has been set as to when the planning commission may see the full site plan, but Jonesborough Town Administrator Bob Browning said that the risk of pollution is minimal and pointed to the already built Shell Station that sits on Boone Street, where a major floodway rests just behind the gas station.
“The idea that is a bad location because there is a stream going by. . . You know, we have a major floodway right behind the Shell Station here and there has never been a problem,” Browning said. “Anywhere you build, you have to pay attention to those issues. Anywhere you build there is going to be the chance of an underground waterway, especially in Jonesborough.”
He said that people should be more concerned about the light pollution and the buffering plan, which includes the buffering plants that will be planted.
“The lighting is one of the big issues with commercial development and the board passed a stringent lighting policy a few years ago,” Browning said.
One of those requirements is a light canopy and that lights must be recessed. Browning mentioned the Roadrunner Market by the George Jaynes Justice Center as what a potential lighting situation may look like.
“What people should be concerned about is whether we are doing a good job on those ordinances and minimizing the glare and potential negative impact,” Browning said.
The property in question is zoned for B-6, which is defined as urban commercial corridor. That zoning is stricter than the B-3 zone, which does not require the setback requirements or buffing requirements that are associated with B-6.
“The Board of Mayor and Alderman that approved that B-6 zone did so with the idea that something may happen in the back of that, in terms of residential development and that it would be a good thing to have a substantial green buffer between the residential development and that structure,” Browning said.
That zoning happened about 10 years prior to the development of that subdivision, according to Browning.
“The idea that the property is inappropriately zoned, as far as I’m concerned, just doesn’t hold up,” Browning said.
Before final site plans can be submitted to the planning commission and before they can be approved by the board, they must first be approved by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe said that if a gas station is ultimately located there, a watchful eye will be placed on it, by not only the town, but the state.
“The state of Tennessee regulates gas stations very closely and in a very detailed manner for a reason,” Wolfe said. “We want to make sure that the station, if that ends up being what is proposed and approved there, is doing their very best job possible in not only protecting the environment but also the residents around it as well.”
“The last thing we want to see is something where property value will decrease or attention is not being paid to details that could negatively impact neighbors,” Wolfe said.
The EPA added to its regulations in 2007, which included the fact that any underground storage tanks must have secondary containment and interstitial monitoring for new and replaced tanks and piping. They must also have under-dispenser containment or new dispenser systems. Those rules went into effect on April 11, 2016.
Wyman said that he has shaken enough bushes and gotten TDEC involved enough that he knows that they will keep a watchful eye on the project. He and other citizens will have a chance to express their concerns when the final site plan goes in front of the Jonesborough Regional Planning Commission in the coming months.