Construction on the Love’s Travel Stop and Country Store is expected to begin this summer, now that the Coffee County Planning Commission has approved the site plan.
The commission approved the plan, presented by Love’s officials, during a meeting on Tuesday. The approval is the last step required by the county before construction can begin.
The travel stop will be located off I-24’s Exit 117, on the corner of the interstate at the Wattendorf Highway (AEDC Road).
The project, including land and construction, will total about $20 million, according to Kealey Dorian, spokesperson for Love’s.
The facility will also hold a Hardee’s restaurant, according to officials.
“The main building is the Love’s Travel Stop and Hardee’s restaurant,” Dorian said. “The second is a Love’s Truck Tire Care building that provides tire care and light mechanical services to professional truck drivers.”
Dorian provided details about landscaping plans, as well.
“We are adding evergreen trees that will serve as a buffer between the back part of the travel stop and a nearby neighborhood,” Dorian said. “We did this to address concerns some residents had over increased noise.”
A 6-foot fence will surround the facility, which will offer 88 truck parking spots and 62 car parking spaces.
The next step is for the company’s engineers to complete the site design. No more votes from county officials are needed for the project to proceed, according to Dorian.
“We expect to begin construction this summer and we hope to be open early next year,” Dorian said.
Opening the facility will create nearly 50 jobs for locals, according to Love’s, with most of them full time and offering a 401K, and health, dental and vision insurance.
“Between the travel stop, restaurant and Love’s Truck Tire Care center, the location will employ approximately 40 to 50 people,” Dorian said.
Love’s representatives are ready to move forward from the approval phases to construction, said Dorian.
“We are excited to move forward with this project and we look forward to serving the community,” Dorian said.
It is estimated that total retail sales annually would be between $4 and $6 million, which translates to sales tax revenue for the county from $110,000 to $165,000 annually.
Jumping through hoops
On Jan. 9, after a public hearing, Coffee County Commission voted to rezone the area from C-1 to C-2, which would facilitate the establishment of the travel stop.
This approval came after Love’s representatives had to jump through hoops and the project was delayed several months because they were initially told by planning commission members that zoning change wouldn’t be necessary.
The requirement for rezoning was brought up by planning commission member and Coffee County Commissioner Dennis Hunt after residents of the area expressed concerns about the proposed travel stop.
Their fears were related to increased truck traffic on the AEDC Road and U.S. Highway 41; increased noise from trucks exiting and entering the interstate; increased crime to include drugs, prostitution, theft and murder; decreased property values from increased noise and pollution levels.
Hunt lives near the area where the proposed truck would be established and represents that district.
On Jan. 9, all commissioners voted to approve the zoning change, except Hunt, who abstained.
Love’s was founded in 1964. The privately-held company is headquartered in Oklahoma City.
Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores have more than 440 locations in 41 states, providing professional truck drivers and motorists with 24-hour access to places where they can purchase gasoline, diesel fuel, compressed natural gas (CNG), travel items, electronics, food and snacks.
In 2008, Love’s began offering roadside assistance and tire care at select locations. The local facility will include a tire care facility.
The Love’s companies creates thousands of jobs, including more than 17,000 employees in the travel stops and country stores and the corporate offices.
The annual revenues of the company are about $14.2 billion.
Elena Cawley may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.