Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Town leaders move one step further on plans to build a bypass

Jonesborough aldermen were divided on a decision last week that will keep alive the possibility of building a bypass around Tennessee’s oldest town.
The bypass, or Historic Jonesborough Parkway as it is being called, would be a super two-lane similar to Boones Creek Road that goes from that road around the north side of Jonesborough to Highway 11-E at the intersection of Persimmon Ridge Road.
Leaders believe the bypass would alleviate the heavy traffic on Highway 11-E and allow drivers to travel around Jonesborough instead of through it.
At the Jan. 9 meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, leaders proposed a resolution to consider a new zone within town limits. The R-4A zone would allow for larger commercial buildings and more types of business than the town’s current R-4 zone.
While the resolution was simply to create the existence of the zone, it was being considered with a specific property on Boones Creek Road in mind.
Owned by Joe Wilson, town leaders say the 12.5 acres of land are essential to creating the road around Jonesborough.
“If there’s ever a bypass to be built, it would have to come out on Boones Creek Road,” said Mayor Kelly Wolfe. “Mr. Wilson will dedicate 75 feet of road through his property for a bypass.
“But when you have a road of that nature, the property value would justify more than what could go there with the R-4 zoning.”
The town’s R-4 zone was created to allow certain commercial uses along arterial routes while also attempting to protect the residential character of the area. The new R-4A zone would give Wilson more flexibility, as far as selling his property, with what type and size businesses could be established at what would be the intersection of the two arterial routes.
The way the property is currently zoned, a restaurant opening there is limited to 75 seats whereas a restaurant in the proposed R-4A zone would be able to seat more people.
Gas stations would also be allowed in the new zone and beer sales would be permitted.
Retail space would be increased from a 5,000-square-feet maximum to 15,000 square feet.
The additional opportunities the new zoning would offer, Wolfe explained, make for a fair trade with Wilson for the donation of the land for the bypass.
“But we would still have strict architectural guidelines,” Wolfe said, explaining how the town would be able to maintain control over what goes there.
Alderman Terry Countermine made a motion to approve on first reading the resolution to create the new zone. Despite Wolfe’s urging to pass the motion so the Planning Commission could take a deeper look at it, neither Vest nor Fitzgerald offered up a second to the motion.
Instead, Vest proposed an amendment to the resolution, making a motion to approve on first reading a change in zoning that did not include the allowance of gas stations in the new zone.
That motion nearly failed, too, as Countermine and Fitzgerald remained mum when Wolfe asked for a second.
Countermine questioned Vest’s opinion that a gas station would be worse to have in the zone than a restaurant. Vest argued a gas station brings with it bigger issues for neighboring residents, including the possibility for more late-night activity, chemical spills and increased traffic.
When it appeared the motion on the table would again die, Wolfe encouraged the aldermen to approve it. Countermine finally offered up a second to the motion. Fitzgerald cast the lone vote against the consideration of a new zone.
Alderman Mary Gearhart was absent from the meeting.
The creation of a new zone will now be addressed by the town’s Planning Commission before returning to the BMA for a final vote.