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Town agrees to sell land, Dunkin’ Donuts plan moves forward at Shell gas station

Folks needing a quick cup of coffee or perhaps a jolt of sugary sweetness will soon have another place to get their fix in Jonesborough.
At their May 13 meeting, members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously approved selling a piece of town-owned land to Mountain Empire Oil for the project for $75,000.
The .445 acre to be sold is located between the Robert E. Browning Town Hall Building and the Shell gas station at the corner of Boone Street and Highway 11E.
Mountain Empire Oil, which owns the gas station, plans to level the current building and start from scratch on a new convenience center that will include a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise.
The project will also change the site’s appearance, moving the gas pumps to the rear of the building and landscaping along the highway side of the business.
“They’re talking about an approximately $2 million investment on the same site,” Mayor Kelly Wolfe said.
Sale negotiations between the town and Mountain Empire Oil began more than a year ago. At the time, the oil company wanted to purchase 1 acre of town-owned land, but balked at an appraisal putting the price tag at $115,000. Town leaders also expressed concern over selling too much of the property, which they feared would prohibit any future expansion at the town hall complex.
“I think this plan strikes that right blend between economic development, beautifying the town, increasing the tax base and allowing us future room for expansion,” Wolfe said.
Alderman Chuck Vest called the proposal “a much better agreement than the first time it came to the board.”
Alderman Adam Dickson requested the town’s Planning Commission work with Mountain Empire Oil to make some changes to the entrances to the business from Boone Street. Citing traffic issues there, Dickson said he’d like to see the Boone Street entrance closest to the traffic light have a more limited use.
Following a brief discussion, Vest made the motion to approve the sale of the property to Mountain Empire Oil. It was seconded by Vice Mayor Terry Countermine and unanimously approved.
Later in the meeting, members of the BMA also approved, on first reading, the rezoning of the property they had just agreed to sell.
The rezoning from B-4 to B-3 would make it compatible with the current Shell station property. The vote to rezone the property also included a provision remove the land from being classified as part of the historic district.
Next, the rezoning, as well as a site plan, must be approved by the Planning Commission. The BMA then must approve the rezoning request on final reading before the project can begin.