Aldermen Criticize Gas Stations Before Approving $1.1 Million Land Sale

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Kum & Go beat out Casey’s General Store in a bidding war that culminated in a blind million-dollar offer Tuesday night to the City of Fayetteville, but not before a few aldermen got some parting shots in against the companies.

The Fayetteville City Council voted Tuesday to sell a two-acre piece of property at 1851 E. Huntsville Road to Kum & Go, where the company plans to build a convenience store. The vote comes weeks after Casey’s swooped in and delayed a deal Kum & Go had worked out with the city for $900,000.

“I’m not a big fan of convenience stores in general,” Alderman Matthew Petty said before voting for the sale.

Alderman Sarah Marsh said she could not approve of a company that would sell junk food and cigarettes to Fayetteville residents.

“I can’t support the sale of public land to a gas station,” she said.

Alderman Alan T. Long also voiced his displeasure, saying he wished the city was selling the land to a different kind of business.

The sale passed 5 to 3, with Long, Marsh and Alderman Rhonda Adams voting against the motion.

The council had planned to potentially decide Jan. 15 whether to sell the old Tyson Mexican Original taco and corn chip factory site to Kum & Go for $900,000, as well as one-quarter of the cost for the demolition of the Tyson factory, which still stands.

Representatives for Casey’s General Store submitted a last-minute offer of $1 million at the January meeting, spurring Kum & Go to increase its offer to $1 million at the time.

The Fayetteville City Council voted unanimously Jan. 15 to table the offers and ask each company to submit a blind offer for the land, to be decided in Tuesday meeting.

Casey’s submitted an updated offer of $1,156,000 Tuesday, while Kum & Go offered $1,115,001.

The land is part of a larger 11-acre campus the city bought in 2004 for $1.1 million. The city later built a fire station on the property, but the old Tyson structure still stands. The proposed site purchase does not include land on which the factory structure stands.

The city estimates full demolition and removal of the Tyson plant could cost about $475,000. The money left over from the purchase could be placed into an ailing city budget, which has been cut more than $2 million, according to a letter City Attorney Kit Williams sent to council members concerning the land deal.

Trespassers have stripped the metals and valuables out of the building, according to the city.

“Our police frequently have been called to the site for ongoing problems and safety issues,” Williams’ letter states. “I believe the mayor and many aldermen will be glad that we can finally remove the unattractive hulk and return some of this property into productive use.”

The Kum & Go representative told aldermen in January he feels like the company puts months of work into the deal, just to be suddenly outbid at the last minute. The Casey’s representative said at the same time that the convenience store could be a welcomed addition to the area.

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