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Truck stop
from hell?

Some residents have issue with proposed Flying J

By Kristen Bishop
kbishop@decaturdaily.com · 340-2443

MOULTON — More criminal activity, damaged roads from large trucks, backed up sewer pipes and litter.

These are problems Boyd and Sheila Compton fear a truck stop at Alabama 157 and 33 would bring to their neighborhood.

The Moulton City Council plans to vote Monday on rezoning the lot across from their home on Alabama 33 to allow property owner Robert Richardson to sell it to a major truck-stop company.

Two-thirds of the eight-acre lot is zoned for commercial business, but a strip along Alabama 33 is zoned residential. Richardson told council members last month that he has been in talks with the company and that it would like to purchase the entire lot.

Richardson declined to identify the company, but area residents said he told them Flying J Inc. out of Ogden, Utah, is interested.

Flying J representatives neither confirmed nor denied that they were looking at the property, but sent The Daily an eight-page packet of information touting the benefits of the company.

During a work session March 12, council members seemed eager to bring in a new business that would create jobs and increase tax revenue.

“If this is an option, we need to be for it,” said Farrell Saint on Thursday. During the work session, he said if the council denied the rezoning it would be like “shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Each Flying J truck stop has between 100 to 120 employees, according to the company’s Web site, www.flyingj .com.

But not everyone is pleased that a truck stop may be coming.

The Comptons have lived in the neighborhood for 34 years. Sheila Compton’s father, Ray McWhorter, lives next door to them, and her brother lives down the street.

“We do not intend to leave, but they may run us out,” said Boyd Compton. “Even if we were to consider leaving, if a truck stop comes here, you couldn’t pay someone to buy our property. Our biggest problem is that it would devalue our property.”

Their property has been in the McWhorter family for about 60 years, long before Moulton annexed it.

“We were out in the country,” said Boyd Compton.

Since then, numerous businesses located along Alabama 157, including a Wal-Mart supercenter at Alabama 24 and 157.

“We have no problem with progress and bringing in tax money, but that strip of residential land is the only buffer we’ve got,” he said.

Richardson’s son owns nine acres across Alabama 157 from the land up for rezoning. It is also for sale.

“If he wants to build a truck stop, he could go across the highway,” said Boyd Compton.

Compton said he’s not sure either property fits the Flying J requirements.

According to the Flying J Web site, the property must be located on an interstate or a major state highway with an average traffic count of 35,000.

The average traffic count on Alabama 157 is 12,510 vehicles per day with about 2,250 of those being large trucks.

That number is expected to increase when construction crews finish four-laning the highway, giving truckers a straight shot from Memphis to Cullman, where 157 meets Interstate 65.

Flying J Inc. also specifies that the property must be at least 200 miles from the nearest Flying J truck stop.

The closest Flying J Travel Plaza to Moulton is in Birmingham, about 80 miles away.

If Flying J decides against locating a facility in Mouton and the council rezones Richardson’s property, he will be free to sell it to whomever he pleases, said Moulton building inspector Jodi Rogers-Buttram.

“Technically he could do whatever he wants with that, and we couldn’t stop him,” she said.

Council members said they have not spoken with Flying J representatives or other companies interested in the property.

Richardson told The Daily the property is priced at $600,000 but will increase if approved for rezoning.

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