A land owner in Fultondale and developers from Quick Trip stores heard from more than 100 Fultondale residents at a community meeting on Thursday night at Fultondale City Hall.
Steve Wilsher, who owns 55 acres on Walker Chapel Road near the offramp of I-65 southbound, and representatives from QT began the meeting discussing the company and listings the various accolades it has received. Touting it as “the Disneyland of convenience stores,” the developers also repeatedly pointed out the store’s reputation for clean restrooms.
As the presentation approached the half-hour mark, residents in the audience interrupted to explain to the company representative that they didn’t care about the value of the company, but instead had concerns about the travel center going in that particular location.
During questions from the audience, Mike Burke, a rest estate project manager for QT, said they anticipated a truck volume of approximately 300 trucks per day using the station’s six diesel pumps and 11 parking stalls for 18 wheelers.
Some residents expressed concern over the addition of that traffic volume to the already congested road, saying the road was already overwhelmed with the existing traffic volume. One resident also voiced concern that trucks would be routed by GPS devices on Walker Chapel Road toward I-22 from the location, putting large trucks going over the small “temporary bridge” placed by the state in the 1970s and possible exceeding the weight bridges weight limit.
Residents who live closest to the location were concerned about the 24-hour travel center and the noise it would create for the surrounding residential area. The proposed location was formerly a church. The QT station would use seven acres along Walker Chapel and leave the other approximately 48 acres for other commercial developments, according to Wilsher.
Other residents were concerned about the potential for criminal elements to be attracted to what they called a “truck stop.”
The developer argued that the location was not a truck stop and QT does not encourage overnight truck parking at its locations, but that having diesel increases the convenience store’s sales revenue by approximately 40% so it was needed to make it a good financial investment. The proposed store would not have a restaurant inside or other amenities standard to truck stops, such as showers and laundry facilities. It would have “grab and go” sandwiches and other food items.
Mayor Jim Lowery said the city was not involved in the negotiations or setting up the meeting, other than allowing the developers to use city hall for the meeting. However, Lowery and most of the Fultondale City Council members attended the meeting to hear from the residents and the developers.
Toward the end of the meeting, residents asked the developers if they had heard them in their pleas to not build the convenience store at that location. While the QT representatives did not answer the questions, Lowery said after the meeting that he heard what the residents had to say.
No appeal has been made to the city or the zoning board to make the changes that would be needed to begin construction on the proposed development.
Burke said during the meeting that QT was committed to doing what was right for everyone in the situation.