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Love’s Truck Stop did not get a warm reception last week from the Williamstown City Council, neighbors to the proposed site and other merchants.
In a 3-2 vote with Councilman Glenn Caldwell absent, the city council rejected amending the city’s zoning ordinance to allow the truck stop in a highway commercial zone.
After an hour and a half of discussion, the council voted with Kim Crupper and Stanley Woodyard voting against rejecting the text amendment and Eddie Gabbert, Charles Ed Wilson and Bob Perry voting in favor of rejecting it.
Following the meeting, Crupper didn’t hide his feelings.
“I was disappointed that the mayor, along with three of our council members, were not in support of the travel plaza and it’s plan that included three retail lots in the development,” Crupper said.
Crupper, who owns/operates a trucking business, was also concerned about the ramifications to other businesses who were considering locating in Williamstown.
“This new development very likely would have started retail and commercial development along Barnes Road,” he said. “I hope the decision that was made does not send the wrong message to the business community in Williamstown and any business looking or wanting to locate here.“
Williamstown Mayor Rick Skinner doesn’t believe the city is sending a negative message.
“By turning down the travel center, we said that we’d be selective about the kind of development we want,” Skinner said.
“The interest in development on Barnes Road is just beginning. With the widening of Barnes Road, now is when people will start looking at this exit for development,” Skinner said.
About 50 residents and business owners filled the council chambers and an adjoining room during the council meeting on Feb. 21.
Members of the Williamstown Downtown Merchants Association presented the council with a petition against the development.
Rick Shefeld, a representative of Love’s, along with Adam Chaney, project manager for the developers, and Paul Slone, of URS Corporation, the company hired to conduct a traffic study for the project, spoke to the council and residents.
The project would include a Subway and Hardee’s restaurants, a convenience store, gas/diesel pumps and parking for 90 trucks overnight. In addition to the 30 acres for the truck stop, three additional outlying lots would have been sold for businesses such as motels or sit-down restaurants.
Chaney said the project also included green space with a dog park area.
He estimated it would bring a total of 250 jobs, with 40 to 60 being employed by the truck stop and be about a $7.5 million investment.
Dr. Floyd Poore approached the city at the end of 2011 about the development.
Little discussion followed an informal presentation.
Crupper said the city needs growth of all kinds and he was sorry to see one of the first large-scale businesses to approach the city turned away.
“As a council member looking ahead, the financial obligations that the city is committed to, along with the goals and objectives that have been discussed, I feel that without growth from retail, commercial and residential developments, utility services, cable and Internet services, as well as property taxes, could be affected and I am not in favor of that during this bad economy,” Crupper said.