HARTSELLE — Hartselle Mayor Randy Garrison, with council permission, signed a letter of intent that could bring a Mapco service station to city-owned property near Alabama 36 and Interstate 65.

“We’ve been talking for several months and this letter is the next step in the process,” the mayor said Wednesday.

The proposal is for Mapco Express to pay the city $1.45 million for 5 acres of land near Cracker Barrel.

The property is part of an 18.8-acre tract the city purchased for $2 million in 2006. Cracker Barrel purchased a little more than 5 acres from the city and opened a restaurant on the site in January 2011.

“We’ve pushed for development in the I-65 area and this will be good for the city,” Council President Kenny Thompson said.

A Huntsville company the city hired several years ago to market the property will receive a 5% commission if Mapco buys the property. Garrison said the city is responsible for paying the commission.

Mapco has not filed any construction plans with the city’s planning department, but the mayor said the company has indicated it plans to build one of its 4,500-square-foot stores that will service passenger vehicles and tractor-trailers.

If the Mapco purchase goes through, the city will still own more than 7 acres in the area. Garrison said he was not aware of anyone interested in the remaining city property, but several businesses “are looking at privately owned property in the area.”

“Hartselle is in a growth mode,” the mayor said, adding that his office receives calls regularly about available commercial property in the city.

For almost two decades, city leaders have sought growth near I-65, but developers have wanted to be on U.S. 31, primarily because about 23,000 vehicles travel the road per day, officials said.

Commercial investment on U.S. 31 in Hartselle over the past four years has topped $13 million and is one of the reasons tax collections for city and school coffers have grown by more than $1.5 million, city officials said.

In August 2002, Hartselle adopted a commercial incentive policy that allows the city to use future sales taxes from a new business to reimburse developers for infrastructure such as utilities and street improvements.

City officials said Mapco will likely have to install some turn lanes in the area, but they have not received any request to use the city’s incentive policy.

— deangelo@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2469. Twitter @DD_Deangelo.

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