Will Loudon Roll Over For Pilot?

At last Monday's Loudon City Council workshop, Pilot Oil Corp. promised city officials everything but the kitchen sink if they would just let them build their truck stop on Hwy. 72. And at least some councilmen seemed in favor of the truck stop. Contrary to the News Herald's story below, The matter is currently on the printed agenda to be voted on at the next council meeting, Monday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Loudon City Hall.

A number of area residents were at the meeting to voice their opposition to a truck stop locating in their community. The City Of Loudon is already plagued with several industries that emit foul odors and pollution. Residents are concerned that the addition of a truck stop will just add more smell and pollutants to the air not to mention the other negative impacts such as prostitution and drug dealing that always accompany truck stops. At least one resident questioned how a truck stop would impact the new Tennessee National development and golf course.

Pilot meets city demands
By: Brandon L Jones Loudon County News-Herald

By the present look of things, Pilot Travel Center will be calling Highway 72 in Loudon its next stop.

However, as disclosed during Loudon City Council's workshop Monday, the corporation has agreed to some demands requested by the city.

Pilot's attorney, Jim Wright of the Knoxville firm Butler, Vines and Babbs stated that the corporation will adhere to the following: constructing a reduced-sized travel center; no overnight parking; trucks not being allowed to idle; the corporation will cover the costs of attorney fees, essentially dismissing the lawsuit and handling legal costs; guaranteed prohibition of expansion "forever," stated Wright; reducing by a dozen or so the number of parking spaces down to 45; and Pilot will also, out of its own pocket, dole out the funds necessary to widen the entrance to its future parking lot and, if need be, putting up a traffic light and dealing with turning lanes.

Basically, Pilot has agreed to do everything the city wants except not build in the city at all.

Several area residents were present to voice their opposition. "So this means they're coming?" asked one man in the audience. The negatives of the matter were the same three arguments that have been brought forth since Pilot first laid its eyes on the city.

Various residents and Councilman Lynn Millsaps voiced them: air, noise and traffic concerns.

"This is where we chose to live and make our homes," said an audience member. "We shouldn't be forced out for the sake of him (Pilot President James Haslam) making another bill."

Millsaps questioned the property tax figures, which he estimated from his studies to amount to roughly $7,500 per annum, a figure some in the audience said they would be more comfortable gathering themselves if that's all it takes. He went on to note gas and sales tax estimates are not, in his opinion, going to bring in that much additional revenue. Nevertheless, Millsaps said with resignation, "I've only got one vote."

Aside from the natural pollutants many said they believe will come along with such an endeavor, the possibility of such a project drawing prostitution and drug use seems to reign high on the scale of residential worries.

Councilman Gene Lambert cited a "poorly written ordinance," wherein city officials tweaked the document, making it tougher essentially only "after the fact."

Council does not plan to have the matter on the agenda for next Monday's meeting because a few councilmen and the mayor were not present at the workshop. It was noted all council members should be able to voice their opinions before casting a final vote.