Neighbors say "no" to possible downtown convenience store

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Speculation over a proposed new Kum & Go location in Jonesboro has some residents outraged and they are already making their voices heard.

"A Kum & Go does not need to be the gateway to the historic Downtown Jonesboro," Mary Kay Jones told Region 8 News.

Jones and fellow Downtown Jonesboro resident Angie Dickson explained their concern lies with where the new convenience store might go.

For years, Dickson and Jones have looked out their windows to the empty lot between Main and Church Streets.

Though they were looking forward to seeing the land developed, talks of a convenience store of the site isn't what they had envisioned for what they call the "Gateway to Downtown."

"It was like getting kicked in the stomach today, or the other day, to find out that they are going to let someone build a Kum & Go right there on that beautiful lot," Dickson said. That lot is the former home of Central Baptist Church.

Even though no official announcement has been made by Kum & Go or the realtors handling the property, Dickson and Jones are hitting the ground running anyway.

"Everyone that we have talked to today has been more than willing to sign our petition," Jones told Region 8 News

Not only are they making themselves heard by canvassing the area with petitions, they're making themselves seen too by putting up posters on their prospective fences.

We checked in with the city of Jonesboro to see where the status of the property lies.

"With this piece of property, nothing has been officially applied for," Otis Spriggs, Planning Director for the city told Region 8 News.

Any development or redevelopment in the city has to go through his office first, then to the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission.

Right now, the empty lot is zoned "C-1 Downtown Core Commercial District."

"Within that district, there are a number of uses that are allowed as of right," Spriggs said.

According to records with the city of Jonesboro, uses permitted within that zoning include offices, housing and convenience retail.

Even though convenience retail is allowed in C-1 Downtown Core Commercial District, special approval would still have to be given by the planning commission for a gas station with underground gas pumps.

Spriggs explained that meeting would determine whether or not the land could be used for something outside what is permitted.

"If certain conditions are weighed against that in terms of impact on the community, then the planning commission may approve those uses as a conditional use."

Regardless, Jones and Dickson said they won't stop until they know a convenience store won't be located at Cherry and Main.

"People say 'not in my backyard', but this is everyone's backyard. Downtown Jonesboro, it belongs to all of us," Dickson said.

"That is not the place to put a convenience store gas station," Jones added.

Again, we've had no official word from Kum & Go or the realtors handling the property but multiple sources have told Region 8 News that Kum & Go is planning on putting their seventh Jonesboro location there.

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