CONYERS — In an effort to clear up any confusion over what constitutes a “truck stop,” the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners (BOC) approved the first reading of a new text amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) at its Sept. 22 meeting. The amendment better defines what a truck stop is and states that truck stops are a prohibited use.
The clarification comes 19 months after the BOC unanimously vetoed another text amendment to the UDO that would have allowed truck stops/travel centers in the county.
The BOC also approved a 60-day moratorium on new gas stations or gas stations with convenience stores, including land disturbance and building permits, to give the text amendment the time needed to go through the public hearing and meetings of the Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners. The moratorium is effective through Nov. 20.
The new amendment would change Section 106-1(c) in the UDO from prohibiting truck stops to defining truck stops as gas stations or gas stations with convenience stores that include one or more of the following:
♦ A parking area designed for use by heavy trucks.
♦ Weight scales designed for use by heavy trucks.
♦ A raised canopy for use by heavy trucks to dispense truck duels and that is separate from the canopy or area used to fuel cars.
♦ A restaurant including dine-in or drive-through window or both.
♦ Facilities for maintenance and repair of heavy trucks.
♦ Facilities for overnight storage of heavy trucks.
♦ Shower facilities for the crews of heavy trucks.
♦ Graded hard surface areas designed to accommodate the wide turning radius of heavy trucks.
♦ Specially designed entrances and exits for heavy trucks.
♦ Any other specialized facility or amenity for the use of heavy trucks and their crews.
The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the new text amendment with one additional requirement at their meeting on Oct. 8. The additional requirement is that the fueling stations cannot have an MPD (Mobile Petroleum Dispenser) flow rate greater than 5 gallons per minute.
The issue of trucks stops/convenience centers arose in the fall of 2018 after William Corey and U.S. Enterprises Inc. wanted to build a Quik Trip (QT) Travel Center on a 35.5-acre lot located at 2527 Sigman Road SW. The property abuts the corner of Sigman Road and Iris Drive at Exit 78 off I-20 East. The planning and zoning staff developed a text amendment to the UDO and presented it to the BOC. If the amendment had been approved, they developer would still have had to apply for a special use permit and go through the public hearing process before the Planning Commission and BOC.
But after more than a month of discussions and referrals, the commissioners unanimously denied the text amendment in December 2018. Post 1 Commissioner Sherri Washington expressed concerns over travel centers not being in the then-recently completed comprehensive land use plan, and also concerns about a travel center being the first thing visitors coming into Rockdale would see on I-20.
The issue re-arose in December 2019 after the developer tried to get a land disturbance permit for the site. Then-Planning and Zoning Director Kc Krzic denied the permit application based on the use of the property being classified as a truck stop and, therefore, prohibited by code.
The developer appealed her denial to the Rockdale County Board of Assessors (BOA), claiming the proposed use was not for a truck stop.
The main issue of difference appeared to be the developer’s plan to have separate tractor-trailer diesel fueling and gas/diesel fueling islands for cars and light duty trucks, and parking spaces and a weighing scale for the tractor-trailers, which the county insisted makes it a truck stop.
After several hearings, the BOA voted in December to uphold Krzic’s decision to deny the permit.
The new text amendment will come back before the Board of Commissioners for a zoning public hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 9 a.m. in the county auditorium. The BOC will not make a decision at that hearing, but will have the second reading and final vote on the text amendment at their Tuesday, Nov. 10 meeting, which begins at 10 a.m. in the county auditorium.