Pilot offers to redo plan

Loudon proposal would cut travel center's size

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pilot Corp. has offered to scale back its travel center plans at exit 72 off of Interstate 75 in Loudon to settle a pending lawsuit.

Loudon City Manager Lynn Mills said the city received a settlement proposal from Pilot on Monday. The proposal would offer to drop the lawsuit in exchange for a permit to build a smaller version of a travel center.

“They have proposed a settlement,” Mills said. “We just got copies, and until we are able to have a discussion with other council members we cannot discuss the specifics of the proposal.”

Pilot filed suit against Loudon in late August after the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals rejected a request for a permit to build a travel center capable of handling up to 70 tractor-trailer rigs and 100 cars. The travel center would be built at Highway 72 and I-75.

Loudon rejected the request because it violated a 2006 ordinance passed by the city to prevent truck stops from operating within city limits. Loudon residents voiced concerns about traffic, air quality and crime at a July zoning appeals board meeting to request a waiver to the ordinance.

“We are continuing to negotiate in good faith with the city of Loudon,” said Pilot lawyer Greg Isaacs. “We’re optimistic that we can resolve this in a way that is beneficial to the city of Loudon.”

Mills said the issue would ultimately be discussed in a public meeting before the council would consider voting to grant Pilot the permit.

The definition of a truck stop or travel center and whether Loudon officials were forthcoming in disclosures and interpretations of the ordinance are at the heart of the Pilot suit, which was filed Aug. 29.

The suit also claims that a zoning map was erroneously shaded to make it appear the property was zoned M-1 for light industrial use. Pilot claims it was later informed that the area was zoned C-4, which would preclude use as a commercial truck stop.