Questions remain for Jonesborough school property

Robert Houk • Updated Feb 6, 2019 at 9:23 AM

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated incorrectly the county’s Health, Education and Welfare Committee would meet Thursday at 9 a.m. The committee will meet at 1 p.m.

A new chapter in the saga of Washington County’s purchase of property next to Jonesborough Elementary School begins this week in the county’s Health, Education and Welfare Committee.

On Thursday, county commissioners will discuss recent news that restrictions on the future use of the Joe McCoy property could make the county’s purchase of the 15-acre tract problematic.

Officials with Charlotte, N.C.-based Lowe’s Home Improvement said in December the company would release some of the restrictions it had previously attached to to sale of the property to allow the county to purchase the tract to upgrade access to a new Jonesborough K-8 school. County officials, however, say those restrictions could be reinstated if the property is ever resold or used for something other than a school.

Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy complimented Lowe’s for its willingness to work with the county on the issue, but said Tuesday a title attorney who reviewed those recent concessions has informed him that “additional issues” still complicate the purchase. He said the 28 pages of restrictions attached to the sale of the McCoy property makes it hard for the consulting attorney to endorse the purchase.

Lowe’s asked that the restrictions be added to the purchase of the remaining tract when it bought its own land from McCoy for its Jonesborough store more than a decade ago.

“Even with those restrictions modified, it’s really difficult to determine what may happen to that property in the future,” Grandy said.

He said it was now up to members of the county’s HEW Committee to decide if the long-delayed purchase of the McCoy property should proceed.

 “It should be interesting,” Grandy said of Thursday’s meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. in the Washington County Courthouse.

In January 2017, the County Commission authorized the county mayor to buy the property for $777,900. The property was initially needed to build the first proposed Jonesborough school scheme, which called for expanding the existing elementary school into a K-8.

The purchase option on the McCoy property has been extended several times as commissioners have waited for the county’s Board of Education to settle on a plan for a new Jonesborough school, and for county officials to sort out legal restrictions on the purchase.

School officials say the McCoy property is key to the Scheme 6 plan approved by the Board of Education in October, which calls for renovating the current Jonesborough Middle School and adding about 64,000 square feet to the building. The land would be used to create a new road, and a bus loading and unloading zone.

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