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The Meadows: Trail deal remains, bypass agreement not so much

A piece of land the Town of Jonesborough had hoped to obtain for a future bypass around town will remain privately owned for now.
Earlier this year, members of the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved entering into an agreement with Brian King, the owner of the remaining portion of The Meadows subdivision off Ben Gamble Road, to trade the construction of utilities for some of his undeveloped lots for a 75-foot right-of-way that could someday become an entry point for the potential bypass.
King later contacted the Herald & Tribune, saying he never agreed to the trade out and believed he was being “strong armed” into signing the agreement.
While the bypass portion of the agreement has now been taken off the table, the rest of the agreement between King and the town remains.
That part of the agreement involves land within the subdivision that had previously been dedicated to the Town of Jonesborough.
That land, which is supposed to be used to create walking trails and common areas in and around the subdivision, was intended to be donated to the town by the former owner of the property. The donation process, however, was not properly completed.
Town leaders have been working with King and the property’s lien holder, Elizabethton Federal Savings Bank, to correct the problem.
“(The bank) has said Brian King doesn’t have enough equity in the project (to sign over the common area property to the town),” Town Administrator Bob Browning said.
Bank officials want King to sell the remaining 10 lots in the current phase of the subdivision before signing over the property, Browning added.
“We’re OK with that as long as we get the easement on the walkway taken care of now,” he said. “We want to go ahead and get it implemented and this issue has to be resolved.”
The bank reportedly has agreed to release the easement that will allow the town to use grant funds to put in the walkway, which will go around the wetlands area of the subdivision, up to Sweetgrass Lane and Goldenrod Drive.
“We were taking the entire common areas,” Town Attorney Jim Wheeler said of the previous proposed agreement. “Now, we are just taking the trails for now.”
Elizabethton Federal will release the common areas once the last lot in the current phase of the subdivision is sold, he said.
Work on the walkway is already under way. The trails will connect with the existing path on Persimmon Ridge Road through a culvert running underneath Highway 11E.
That culvert has been cleaned out and now is ready to serve as the connecting piece of the walkway.
At the Nov. 12 meeting of the BMA, Ray Bell, a resident of The Meadows, expressed concern over the previous agreement’s mention of trails that “cut through people’s back yards.”
While an initial walkway plan did include an easement between some back yards in the subdivision, Browning said that is no longer a part of the overall plan.
“That won’t be on the table, period, as far as we are concerned,” Browning said. “Those are the (parts of the trails) that are not going to be implemented.”
The proposed agreement created by Wheeler has yet to be signed by all parties involved.