Smyth supervisors give truck stops the green light to continue | Community


Stephanie Porter-Nichols | Smyth County News and Messenger

A proposed truck stop for land just off Interstate 81 Exit 39 won the first of multiple permits and approvals required Thursday night.

The hope of getting even a small percentage of the more than 30,000 vehicles that pass through commercially zoned land daily to stop and spend money in the county and perhaps spark more growth influenced supervisors, who recognized citizens’ concerns regarding the environment, traffic, quality of life for nearby neighborhoods, and history. They also noted that most of these concerns are regulated by other government agencies and are outside county jurisdiction.

Arpit Soni of Soni Holdings LLC, the developer of the project, told supervisors they are aware that several steps remain to be completed to build the truck stop on land that adjoins 416 Chestnut Ridge Road in Marion. However, he said: “That’s the first step we have to take.”

If all necessary federal and state approvals are granted, Soni said he would like to begin work on the truck stop travel center late this year or early 2023. He described it as similar to the truck stops Luv or TA area road trips.

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The project, Soni said, would be built in two phases, with the first allowing the center to accommodate around 200 tractor-trailers, then 500 trucks when the second phase is completed.

A preliminary drawing of the truck stop shows it, including a truck wash, restrooms and truck repair center, travel center, and four possible outbound packages.

Last month, Soni said Wendy’s and Subway had confirmed they would be moving there and had discussions with Taco Bell, Buffalo Wild Wings and Cracker Barrel, among others. On Thursday, he said they were continuing to work to bring both fast food and sit-down restaurants to the project. He also stated that Circle K has confirmed that they are ready to join development.

In February, Soni noted that the project would create jobs, and he presented officials with a study that indicated that in its first year of operation, the truck stop would generate $5.5 million in local, state, and local taxes. others.

Soni Holdings is not new to Smyth County. They have been working to fully reopen the Adwolfe Food Mart and plan to hold a grand opening next month.

Soni said the developers understood they had to work with the Virginia Department of Transportation on a traffic study and apply for a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers to work on land that included nearly six acres of wetland. He also said work has been underway for more than a year with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to build the site’s eight acres that are in the floodplain.

While aware of people’s concerns about the 22-bedroom Seven Mile Ford pre-Civil War home of the late Lucy Herndon Crockett, a noted writer and artist, Arpit told supervisors that the renovations needed to save the home are expected to cost over $4. million.

The house, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969, was built in 1842 by John Montgomery Preston on land that his wife, Maria Thornton Carter Preston, inherited from her father, General Francis Preston.

In a letter to supervisors, site owner George Palmer wrote: “I could say a lot more, as if no one had done anything positive about the preservation of the old house in the past 40 years.

George Palmer, owner of the land where the proposed roadhouse would be developed, shakes hands with Supervisor Roscoe Call after council voted to grant a special use permit for the project.

Stephanie Porter-Nichols/Smyth County News and Messenger

Supervisor Phil Stevenson explained that in her day, Crockett, who served as a Red Cross worker in the Pacific during World War II, was probably a hero. However, he said, “I don’t live among the dead.

“We need to help the heroes of today,” Stevenson said, including doctors, nurses and others on the front lines. New revenue for the county will allow the county to help them, he said. To the developers, Stevenson said, “Hopefully you can cover the whole property…so we can help the living heroes.”

Stevenson noted that it is Palmer’s right to demolish the house if he wishes.

With the land near I-81 and zoned for commercial development, Stevenson said, it will expand.

Supervisor Courtney Widener said the majority of citizens who contacted him were in favor of the project. Noting that he has three children, the Royal Oak District Supervisor said he hopes the truck stop project can spur development and help the county grow.

“This area needs growth,” said Widener, who also admitted he lost sleep over the pros and cons of the proposal.

Supervisor Mike Sturgill said he was working to see the big picture. He expressed hope that approval of this opportunity would bring more business and encourage travelers to get off Interstate 81, spend money and generate revenue, which would be “good for citizens.” .

Board chairman Charlie Atkins said he thinks the county needs the truck stop, but he told developers he wants it to be a quality travel hub, which will attract customers regular. He asked Soni to update the supervisors every six months on the project. Soni agreed.

The supervisors’ decision was unanimous. Palmer thanked the board and said he had worked to develop the land for 20 years. Speaking to individual supervisors after the vote, Palmer called their decision an answered prayer.

On Thursday, supervisors also approved the rezoning and special use permit needed for JWM Enterprises LLC, to establish a truck terminal, contractor storage yard and mining, ore extraction operation. and processing on approximately 14 acres at 2312 and 2340 Lee Highway in Marion.

Supervisors have rezoned this land from commercial to industrial.


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