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Lubbock City Council Approves Love’s Travel Stop Zoning Request

People standing in support of Love’s Travel Stop – Cole Shooter, KFYO.com

At a rather lengthy meeting of the Lubbock City Council on Thursday evening, the Council gave final approval to a zone change which will allow for a new truck stop to be built near Lubbock’s Preston Smith International Airport.

Numerous people turned out to voice their opinion, both in support of the construction of a Love’s Travel Center and in opposition, prior to the Council’s approval of the zone change request.

The Love’s Travel Stop is slated to be built at the southwestern corner of Interstate 27 and Regis Street.

The Council originally set a five-minute time limit for each person who wanted to voice their opinion to the group, but allowed people more time if they needed it.

One speaker, John Spence, who is a resident in the Country Club area near the proposed location for the travel center, said that he had a number of concerns about the business being near his home, but those involved with Love’s Travel Center attempted to assuage his concerns.

Spence spoke in favor of the travel center, saying that since Love’s responded to his concerns, he believed that “Love’s will do a good job in our community.”

Not all speakers were for the zone change. Former Lubbock Mayor David Miller, who is in charge of Spirit Ranch, which is in the location of the former County Line restaurant not far from the Love’s Travel Center location, spoke out against the zone change.

“It’s not about trucks or truckers,” Miller said. “Everybody in between, 10-year-olds and 80-year-olds, have been to our place, and that safe haven that we’ve been able to provide them, that frankly, nature has been able to provide them, we believe will be diminished.”

Randy Andrews, owner of Graco Real Estate, which owns the land on which the Spirit Ranch is located, also voiced his disapproval of having a full travel center at the location, stating that he would prefer a normal convenience store.

Another resident, Linda Gillespie, who has been outspoken on her opposition to the travel stop, voiced her opinion as well.

Expressing concern over increased traffic at night for the 24-hour travel center, Gillispie said “Who’s going to call that police officer? There’s nobody there. We’re sleeping with our windows open and by the time they get that call, that guy could be in our house, in our yard, vandalizing my cats.”

Lane McClanahan, a Lubbock Police lieutenant, spoke in favor of the travel center.

“I know that there’s been a lot of talk about drugs and prostitution,” said McClanahan. “Those particular types of calls, from my experience, haven’t been that prevalent at the other truck stops. I don’t think it’s that big of an issue. If it is, call the police department, officers will show up, they’ll address that issue.”

District One Lubbock City Councilman Victor Hernandez offered an amendment to the ordinance, which allows Love’s Travel Center one sign that is within the City of Lubbock’s sign regulations on the property.

The Council chose to consider the two parcels of land involved in the zone change request separately, which includes the larger 12.5 acre parcel of land that will be the future location of the travel center, and a smaller four acre plot of land which Love’s hopes to turn into a shopping area containing businesses.

A site plan, thoroughly outlining the plans for the larger parcel, was included for the travel stop. No detailed site plan was available for the smaller parcel.

The Council gave final approval to the zone change request from R-1 residential to Interstate Highway Industrial for the parcel that will be home to the travel center 6-1, Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson dissenting.

The zone change request for the smaller parcel failed unanimously, with the Council members stating that they would prefer a detailed site plan before agreeing to any zone changes for that site.

Though debate over the Love’s Travel Stop composed the majority of the meeting, the Council did consider other items.

The Council delivered final approval to an expansion of the City’s ban on the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana.

Since the chemical compositions of these synthetic drugs for sale change to dodge existing ordinances, the Council approved the second reading of the ordinance, which adds a number of new chemical structures to the City’s ban list.

The item was approved 6-1, with Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson voting against the measure, saying that he would prefer a ban that was more enforceable by Lubbock Police.

District Three Councilman Todd Klein also offered a resolution that would establish a citizen task force to study payday lending businesses in the Hub City, and to make recommendations to State officials to mitigate predatory lending in Texas.

Since this item was considered after 11 p.m. Thursday, the Council unanimously voted to postpone the item until the next meeting to allow them to thoroughly discuss the matter.

The Council also chose not to approve a budget amendment sponsored by Klein, which would have amended the fiscal year 2013-14 budget to add one position to the City’s Risk Management Fund by adding the position of Organizational Development Coordinator.

The budget increase would have been for $32,000, with total annual cost for salary and benefits for the position in future years at more than $65,000.

District Five Councilwoman Karen Gibson said that she preferred to wait to consider creating the position until the budget process for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The amendment failed 5-2, with Klein and Hernandez voting in favor of the item.

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