City council subsequently considered the proposal in multiple public sessions from January to May 2023 without making a final decision. At the same time, Buc-ee’s was making plans for a store a few hundred yards north on the opposite side of Ohio 235.
In May, council remanded the case to planning commission to further consider a 4,500-square-foot facility with more truck parking spaces, for a total of 30, as well as a more detailed plan to outline proposed hours of operation, how the facility would be advertised and staffed, and how access control would be maintained.
After tabling the proposal at its Aug. 15 meeting, planning commission earlier this month voted this time not to recommend it for council approval.
The proposal will now return to council, with a public hearing scheduled for Oct. 9, according to city planner Aaron Sorrell.
Ongoing discussion amongst council and planning commission about project specifics has centered on a few points of apprehension, including how this type of facility differs from a traditional truck stop, a use for the site that city officials have pushed back against.
“There have been concerns about the potential of overnight sleeping and the issues that arise from those types of traditional truck stops, (and) several council members were clear they didn’t want to see overnight sleeping,” Sorrell said during the Sept. 12 planning commission meeting.
City officials and staff shared concerns that a traditional truck stop with overnight lodging on the grounds would lead to an increase in crime.
The city’s comprehensive plan describes the site as being within an area of growth with the goal of providing a visually appealing entrance into the city, a feature which could be muddled by unintended consequences from ill-fitted development, according to some city officials.
“The idea is to promote economic development while at the same time providing an attractive gateway into the community,” Sorrell said.
Developer Thomas Dusa spoke during the Sept. 12 meeting, stating he and his team had adjusted project plans in order to address staff concerns, including the outward design of the building and the development of a detailed business plan for the maintenance facility.
After extended discussion during that meeting, planning commission voted 3-2 not to recommend approval.
“I think this is a de facto truck stop by any other name,” said commission member David Cassity following the vote.