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Unicoi panel talks food trucks

The Unicoi Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals met for its monthly meeting on Monday, Nov. 10.
During the planning commission meeting, the board discussed allowing an ordinance pertaining to temporary businesses, such as food carts. The current ordinance does not discuss temporary businesses, therefore they have had no option but to hold them under the existing ordinance.
Ross Phillips, community planner with the First Tennessee Development District, presented the board with copies of Jonesborough’s ordinance on temporary businesses as an example. Phillips went through the multi-page packet with the board and highlighted key aspects of the ordinance that he felt the town should consider.
“I just found this recently and I like the way it is set up,” said Phillips. “The reason I like this ordinance is that it adds to the municipal code for temporary businesses.”
A key aspect of the ordinance that Phillips highlighted was that temporary permits would be issued for eight months and cannot be renewed for at least 16 months. Additionally, the town would only grant a maximum of four or five permits at a time.
“None of this is set in stone (for Unicoi) so that’s what we’re gonna talk about,” said Phillips.
In other business, the board discussed site plans for the Dollar General to be built in Unicoi. A primary topic during the discussion was flooding concerns.
Jay Hayes of John Coleman Hayes Construction Co. Inc. and JJK Partners, LLC., the group who will be building the structure, presented the board with three different site plan options. Hayes said that Dollar General requires at least 30 parking spaces for each store. Some of the plans allotted for the required 30, while another allowed for over 40 spaces. The key in each of the plans and the request for the variance came from the need for a retention pond or a proper way to allow water run-off.
“At this time I cannot recommend taking any action,” said town planner Ross Phillips.
Phillips also advised Hayes that, should the construction disturb more than one acre, the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation (TDEC) would have to get involved and issue a permit.
The board suggested that Hayes return in a month with a new site plan containing the information requested during the meeting.
“We really do want your business,” said Mayor Johnny Lynch.
For technicality purposes, the board passed a motion to deny the plans based upon the information provided now, but encouraged Hayes and his company to return in a month with a new plan. If all is approved, the Dollar General would be constructed off of Exit 32 on I-26 and would be visible from the interstate.
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Following the adjournment of the planning commission meeting, the board of zoning appeals meeting was called to order.
The only item on the agenda was to consider a variance for the number of parking spaces at Dollar General, which had already been discussed and decided upon during the planning commission meeting. The board also agreed to deny the request now and wait for the additional information.