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Love's takes another step toward Falkville location

By Ronnie Thomas 340-2438

FALKVILLE — The construction of a Love's Travel Stop & Country Store here off Interstate 65 took a step toward reality Tuesday.

After a public hearing, the Falkville Planning Commission recommended that the Town Council zone the 14 acres where Love's officials want to locate to commercial. The store will cost between $5 million and $7 million to build.

The property is adjacent to Douglas Road and Morgan County 55 East, across from Falkville Chevron.

Mayor Jimmie Walker set a special meeting Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. for the council's public hearing on the zoning. Most expect that after the hearing the council will suspend the rules and vote.

Bill Gleason, a Love's real estate project manager who addressed the council a week ago at its regular meeting, went over the company's plans during the Planning Commission's public hearing Tuesday.

Charlie Rogers, owner of Charlie's Food Mart, located off U.S. 31 on Morgan County 55 East, raised the only concerns.

Rogers wanted to know what the town would do if the zoning passed and Love's retreated from its plans to locate on the property. His fear, he said, is that once the property is zoned commercial, any business could move in, including "a trailer park."

Mayor Jimmie Walker, a planning commission member, said that would not happen because the town's zoning laws are too stringent.

Rogers also is concerned about drainage problems on Douglas Road, which he said is prone to flooding. He asked Gleason how the company would prevent future flooding and where water draining from the property would go.

Gleason said that engineers would do a thorough study before construction begins. He said he did not foresee any problems.

"We will have geo-tech people here Wednesday who will bore and take core samplings to make sure the land is suitable for our needs," he said.

Gleason said the company also would make improvements to Douglas Road.

Love's, headquartered in Oklahoma City, began operations in 1964 and has 195 sites in 31 states. The firm has a travel stop in Loxley, near Mobile, and will begin construction on one in Clanton within a month.

Gleason said Love's at Falkville would employ about 80 people and up to eight salaried management personnel.

He said the projected annual tax revenue from gasoline sales, diesel sales and store merchandise — including a McDonald's and Subway — would be $288,000.

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