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Save the stream, skip the station

The two dozen people who attended a public hearing earlier this month concerning an application to relocate a portion of a stream on property located on Highway 11-E across from Persimmon Ridge set an example more residents should follow.
The hearing conducted by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation took place on a January evening when a bout of winter weather created dangerous driving conditions. Despite these challenges, citizens stayed and spoke out.
A proposed development by applicants John Molder and Sonja Bailey would permit the relocation of a stream in order to construct a gas station on the northeast corner of New Hope Road and Highway 11-E. The proposed development would require the relocation of 245 feet of a stream and would impact .094 acres of wetland.
Not only did the people who attended the meeting speak out, they also are now entitled to appeal the TDEC decision should the State issue a permit for the project.
Officials are now in the process of reviewing the application and comments to decide whether to deny a permit, issue one or provide for a conditional permit. The public comment period on the project ended on Jan. 22.
Residents who attended the meeting appeared knowledgeable, an essential requirement for those individuals who desired to publicly present their opinions.
Jeff Dupre, of Jonesborough, called the project “the establishment of a polluting business” and said “we’re going to wind up with a lot of stuff going into the creek that we don’t want.”
Charles Gutierrez, of Jonesborough, said he was “opposed to any construction near a water source” and voiced concern over “piecemealing” the 4.4 acres of wetlands in the area.
Local environmentalist Frances Lamberts commented on the possible adverse affects of the proposal, calling for more data before a decision is made.
Engineer Todd Wood spoke on behalf of the owners, explaining the entire property is approximately 5 acres in size, with .2 acres of wetlands within its boundaries. That .2 acres is part of a 4.4 acres of total wetlands in the surrounding area. In order to build the gas station, 245 feet of the 285-feet-long westerly stream needs to be relocated, he said.
Wood indicated that the stream becomes more of a “ditch” at some point and his proposals would “provide a better habitat” for aquatic life and “take a stream that is not of high quality itself” and make it better.
The stream relocation proposed to site another gas station should not have priority over preserving the environment.
The Herald & Tribune continuously promotes and reports on the activities of the business and commercial districts of Jonesborough.
However, the newspaper also wants TDEC to listen to citizen concerns on this issue and arrive at a solution that preserves the stream and adjacent wetlands.
What to readers think? Address “Letters to the Editor” to P. O. Box 277, Jonesborough, Tennessee 37659. Fax letters to 423-753-6528 or e-mail them to [email protected]
Please keep letters to the editor to 250 words or less and be sure to include your name, address and phone number for verification purposes.