Proposed Whitley Co. truck stop worries nearby residents

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A large truck stop is in the works in Whitley County.

According to the proposed plan, the new business would hold 163 truck parking spots on 26 acres of land.

The truck stop, which has been named K & M Junction, would go at the northwest corner of the U.S. 30 and West County Line Road intersection.

The area first needs to be rezoned.

“The property is currently zoned agricultural,” Dave Sewell, the executive director of the Columbia City/Whitley County Joint Planning and Building Department, said.

“They need to rezone the property to general commercial and industrial park/manufacturing to allow the truck stop and other commercial uses.”

A rezoning hearing is set for June 18 at the Whitley County Government Center. Recently, Sewell’s department sent notices about the change to adjacent property owners along West County Line Road.

“I thought it was time to pack up the kids and move,” said Kathy Price after she got the letter.

Price lives on the Allen County side of West County Line Road. “I don’t want my kids living next to the pollution. I don’t want to have that eyesore, the traffic, or the noise, or any other problems that come with it.”

The truck stop would include a restaurant, a small convenience store, and fuel center.

The applicants requesting a rezoning of the property are Mark and Cynthia Strack and Deathe & McCoy, LLC, according to the application filed with the county.

Mark Strack declined to speak with NewsChannel 15 about the project.

Sewell said the county has been without a truck stop for about ten years and said the development fit with the county’s comprehensive plan.

“Certainly with the traffic level and the existing truck levels on U.S. 30, this plan is probably the most appropriate land use,” he said.

Trucks that stop in Whitley Count rather than in nearby Warsaw or Fort Wayne would bring in additional revenue to the county.

“The great thing is we get taxes off of this,” said Whitley County Commissioner George Schrumpf.  “It improves our assessed value for the county. We also get employment.”

The truck stop could bring as many as 75 jobs, most of them part-time.

“In Whitley County, we’re always looking for new business. Whether it’s industrial or retail,” Schrumpf said. “It’s just a great opportunity.”

Sewell and Schrumpf said the truck stop will compliment Steel Dynamics which is located a little west of the proposed site on U.S. 30.

Neighbors already see the problem with the trucks passing by and fear more pollution is on the way if the trucks stay there.

“The pollution will all fly over on us,” said Delbert Cripe, who lives nearby on West County Line Road.

He and his wife have lived in the same house since Delbert built it in 1967.

“The wind blows west to east 75 to 85 percent of the time.”

Cripe, like Price, said he would look to move. However, he said he’s worried he won’t be able to get full value now that a truck stop is moving in next door.

“We need to have enough money to buy another place that is just as good as this one,” Cripe said. “I don’t think we’ll live here. I want to live here, but not with that there.”

According to Sewell, the Whitley County Commissioners are expected to hold an initial vote on the rezoning of the truck stop at their July 7 meeting.

Cripe and Sewell said they plan to write letters expressing they did not want the truck stop built. Letters must be in by noon June 18, the day of the rezoning meeting

County Line Travel Plaza already sits on the southeast corner of the same intersection.

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