The city will allow only one business - Edible Arrangements - to open during negotiations with the developer of the controversial South Mt. Juliet Starbucks strip center under fire for "not stepping up" to provide a second access.
Over the past few months the city has been embroiled in negotiations with developer Boyle Investments to "stand-by" a reported verbal agreement to provide a second access to the center to help ease traffic.
Mt. Juliet District 4 Commissioner Brian Abston met again this week again with Boyle Development Company which developed the Publix and is currently constructing a Starbucks, Moe's Southwest Grille and other businesses on property near Publix.
For several months, Abston has tried to convince Boyle officials to "make good" on what he said was a previous commitment to provide a second access to the businesses. Currently, the only way to access the new Starbucks and the other businesses is by way of the Holiday Inn Express entry.
Adam Ballash with Boyle supplied Abston and the City of Mt. Juliet with 2009 documents he said show final approval, and he said the plans "ultimately reconciled the environmental permitting, removed the bridge, realigned the creek and permitted the removal of wetlands." In other words, Ballash indicated Boyle was not legally bound to add a second entrance to what Abston termed "Mt. Juliet's latest crash spot."
However, recently Mt. Juliet put a stop work order on construction during the controversy, but it was lifted a few weeks ago, contingent Boyle come up with a plan to provide an access as earlier reportedly promised.
The businesses were scheduled to open this month, and Abston said only Edible Arrangements would be allowed to open because it was not a high traffic business, like Starbucks.
Abston said he's met again with Boyle officials and is "pleased with the way things are going."
"Boyle is working with us toward a final resolution," he said this week.
Abston noted there are two alternative plans that will provide a back access to the property with a connector road.
"It's not like they didn't already agree to do this years ago," he said. "We are talking to them about what they already agreed to do."
Abston said the city will never issue a certificate of occupancy to any of the businesses until something is confirmed on Boyle's side to provide the access.
"They are coming up with a plan," he said. "We will meet in two weeks to review where we are," he said. "In the meantime what we've discussed has to deal with runoff and water detention and we have to get approvals."
He said the whole development was scheduled to open in March, but the way things are going it could be another 30 to 60 days before things can open.
"I've had total support from the community," he said. "I'm sure the businesses are not happy with this, but some indicate they understand we have to make sure things are correct and proper beforehand."
Writer Laurie Everett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.