By SERINA MARSHALL
After sparks flew at the last meeting of the Jonesborough Mayor and Alderman, the board is hoping to extinguish the remaining flames.
On Thursday, Aug. 19, the board will meet at 7 p.m. to take a second look at the Tennessee Hills Distillery request for approval of an outdoor use permit.
When approached by the Herald & Tribune earlier this week, distillery owner and town Alderman Stephen Callahan said he had removed himself from the discussion. A petition has been drawn up by the Tennessee Hills business collectively.
“Stephen and his wife Jessica (Callahan) have a strong social media presence,” said co-owner and distillery business partner, Scott Andrew. “I think all will be resolved at the meeting Thursday.”
As of 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, the petition had 2,075 signatures; 660 from the Town of Jonesborough, 1,743 from the state of Tennessee, and 330 that were outside of Tennessee.
“The city is trying hard to work with us. The goal is to work with the town and be a good neighbor. We want an iconic spot on top of the hill,” Andrew said. “We are hopeful for an amicable vote on the request.”
The motion to approve this request was tabled at the last meeting, to be further discussed at a later time.
“There is a lot of talking going on behind the scenes,” Alderman Terry Countermine said. “When I made a motion to table the motion (from Alderman Virginia Causey), I was hoping a compromise could be reached.”
The permit to implement the outdoor space of the distillery came under fire due to the presence alcohol without a food option and the safety concerns that came along with it.
“The meeting (on Thursday) will discuss the real issue, which is a mutual protection of a special place called Jonesborough,” Mayor Chuck Vest said. “We need to find a balance to protect the quality of life.”
One thing that is agreed upon between Vest and Countermine is the hope to move forward with Callahan and his business owner and coach, Scott Andrew, to create a vision that seems fitting for Jonesborough.
“I am an eternal optimist,” Countermine said. “I hope an agreement can be made so I can vote. There are a lot of strained relationships, but I am cautiously optimistic.”
Vest also acknowledged that Andrew has put a lot of time, attention and money in Jonesborough. Along with this, comes invested trust.
“There must be trust involved. We must move beyond the past to protect the town,” Vest said. “We can’t sacrifice the quality of life, and (Andrew’s) vision can help the town grow economically. It shows enthusiasm for business and the town. I believe it is a blend of the best for everyone.”