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New type of business permit in limbo

A new type of business permit being considered by the Town of Jonesborough remains in limbo after last month’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.
Town leaders are considering creating a temporary business permit that would fall between a regular business license and a transient vendor license.
Currently, a prospective business is allowed to open with a regular business license – the one needed by any permanent business in town – and a transient vendor license – where a non-permanent business can pay every 14 days to operate in town, up to a maximum of six months.
Under consideration is a temporary business license, which would allow a non-permanent business the ability to pay one time and remain open for up to eight months before being required to vacate the premises.
The issue of another type of permit came about after issues arose when a funnel cake trailer opened last year within the historic district of downtown. Some argued that such a business should not be allowed in downtown, prompting a look at how the town handles such businesses on a whole.
“This is not something that is simple or easy,” Mayor Kelly Wolfe said. “There’s no quick answer to it. There’s several different schools of thought on this.”
Some could argue, Wolfe explained, that creating the temporary business permit would help incubate a new business in town that can flourish and grow. Others, Wolfe said, might say by allowing someone to open a business without the overhead is sort of like giving that person an advantage over permanent businesses in town.
Wolfe and Town Administrator Bob Browning questioned whether such a permit was necessary in Jonesborough and whether it was a good idea at all.
“I don’t see anybody that has come in to get a transient vendor permit as being a long time investor in the town of Jonesborough,” Browning said.
Despite additional requirements on landscaping and appearance for a business to get a temporary permit instead of a transient vendor license, Browning said he doubted it would make a difference in the overall look of such an establishment.
“A temporary business is only going to end up looking like a temporary business,” he said.
Alderman Chuck Vest, however, said he sees merit in the proposed new permit.
“I think there’s some good things in here that can kind of help us manage those temporary businesses,” Vest said. “There’s some value to it. It might attract some temporary businesses that become full time.”
Several town leaders seemed to agree that more restrictions are needed in the historic district. That prompted Wolfe to request town staff create two versions of the permit proposal – the one that is currently being considered and another one that only applies to the historic district.
The BMA is expected to further debate the issue at its April meeting.