In response to a proposed Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment that would pave the way for putting a truck stop at Exit 162 on Interstate 81, and eventually truck stops at other Botetourt County interstate exits, an opposition group of concerned residents has formed – “Stand Up for Botetourt.”
To make opposition known to the Board of Supervisors, the volunteer group has already launched a petition drive for county residents who oppose the amendment to permit truck stops, according to a news release from the group.
To increase the rapidly growing public awareness, the news release said, Stand Up for Botetourt has initiated a website, standupforbotetourt.org, a Facebook page, a brochure to pass along to neighbors, and a telephone number, (540) 521-2797, to call to find out how to preserve one’s property, the environment, and ensure traffic and public safety.
The Zoning Amendment being considered by Botetourt County is to allow for a new zoning category called “Convenience Store, Highway.” A developer trying to push through a project at Exit 162 came up with the name for this new category, but it’s not a convenience store that is actually being proposed, according to the group.
The news released continued: “It’s a truck stop, with high speed diesel fueling dispensers and overnight truck parking (for approximately 60 trucks in the case of the Exit 162 project). Although Exit 162 is the current target of the developer, the amended zoning ordinance, if approved, would apply to all Botetourt County exits of the interstate that meet the criteria in the proposed amendment or future amendments.
“There are no public utilities at Exit 162. A truck stop must drill its own well and build its own septic system that thousands of people will be stopping to use daily. The area is known for its karst topography, characterized by sinkholes and interconnected underground caverns. Area residents are concerned about the potential impact on area wells as the water table is drawn down and wastewater and sewage put into the ground. A floodplain and Mill Creek are across from the site draining into the James River.
“Potential tax revenue a truck stop would generate for the county has appeal. However, two former members of the Board of Supervisors have revealed to Stand Up for Botetourt that the old Exit 150 truck stop generated modest income and the cost of law enforcement calls to the truck stop more than consumed the tax revenue collected. The former Exit 150 truck stop, unfortunately like most truck stops, had incidences of crime, drugs, prostitution and human trafficking.
“Exit 162 consists of short deceleration lanes, one with a dangerous curve. The few tractor-trailers that use the exit now have difficulty maneuvering within the interchange. Presently, the exit ramps are controlled by two stop signs. Tractor-trailers streaming into a truck stop would back up onto 81 as they wait to cross Rt. 11. According to VDOT regulations for the interchange, the stop signs are too close together to be replaced by traffic signals. Such signals would also cause a back-up onto 81. VDOT has stated that there are no plans or funds to reconfigure Exit 162. So if a truck stop is built, county residents should prepare themselves for horrific traffic jams and accidents.
“Stand Up for Botetourt encourages citizens throughout the county to contact their county supervisors and urge them to vote to deny the Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment at the May Board of Supervisors meeting,” the news release said.