Truck stop opponents deliver 2,000-signature petition to council
Feb 18, 2013 (Statesville Record & Landmark - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The largest crowd to attend a Statesville City Council meeting in five years filled every seat in the council chambers, took up most of the wall space and bled out into the hallway for Monday's regular meeting.
And almost all of them were there in opposition to a truck stop planned for east Statesville.
About 100 people donned red shirts to protest a Love's Travel Stop & Country Store that is currently in the late stages of the planning and approval process and is slated to be built near Exit 154 off Interstate 40.
Nine of those who attended the meeting also spoke out against the project.
Dr. Elizabeth Ross said the decision to allow the project to be built at its proposed location was "very poor" one.
It was a decision made by Statesville Planning Director David Currier when he discovered that a listing for "truck stop" or "travel plaza" was not specifically enumerated in the city's code of ordinances. The code allows for the planning director to make the call as to the best location for a business in cases like that.
Currier felt that the B4 zoning district fit the bill.
But those protesting the matter filed an appeal with the city's Board of Adjustment to have Currier's decision overturned. That case will be heard at the board's March 5 meeting.
On Monday, however, residents wanted the City Council to have a sense of their disagreement.
Ross said traffic in the area of the proposed site "used to flow very easily," but that it could be described as "stop and go" since nearby Exit 153 was closed a few months ago.
"It's hard to imagine how this project will not have an impact on the little bit of 'go' that's still there," Ross said and added, "There have to better options than this."
Linda Howard said her initial reaction to the plans for Love's was, "How could this be "
She added that, "The next thing I heard is that it was a done deal."
Howard said she was happy when she learned that a "nice hotel" was going to be built in the area of the Love's site but there is a "greater potential for crime with a truck stop."
Howard noted, however, that she had been a patron of other Love's locations and said she was impressed with the service.
"They're very nice," she said, "but not for this location."
Stacey Schlesinger said the only ingress and egress for her neighborhood is very near the Love's site.
"I have nothing against truck stops or truckers," she said and later added, "This is about opposition to a truck stop right across the street from a residential area and a nursing home."
Schlesinger carried with her to the podium at the council dais a binder notebook that contained the signatures of more than 2,000 people on a petition opposing the Love's project.
Russell Kaye said the project could have a serious impact on the city's water and sewer systems due to runoff from the site.
Kate Dunbar said council members could be "recognized as heroes" if they found a way to put the kibosh on the project.
Rhonda Adams spoke on behalf of Statesville Place and Clare Bridge, assisted living facilities located close to the project site.
Adams said many of her residents suffer from dementia and that one of the small pleasures they have is sitting outside and having conversations with others.
"Our fear is that they won't be able to do that if the truck stop comes," she said.
The final speaker was Dr. Chip Cooney, a veterinarian and owner of Animal Hospital of Statesville.
Cooney said he recently made major renovations to his facility that he would not have made had he been aware of the Love's plans beforehand.
Cooney quoted from the webpage of the city's planning department regarding the department's responsibilities, which reads in part that "through planning we seek to enhance the quality of life of our residents."
He said of that statement, "These words are empty promises if this project goes through."
Monday's attendance was the largest at a city council meeting since 2008, when a crowd about twice as large showed up to protest the issuance of a special-use permit to Maymead Materials Inc., which was seeking to build a second asphalt plant in Statesville.
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