August 10, 2022

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Developer cites ‘economics’ in return to larger facility for Newton travel center

3 min read

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — A developer has changed its plan for a travel center in northeast Newton again to create more space for a convenience store and fast-food restaurants compared to one it showed county commissioners in June.

JPC Design Construction has submitted a concept plan for a building three times the size of the one it showed the Newton County Board of Commissioners June 15, officials confirmed.

Jeremy Crosby of JPC said the company needed a larger building and more space for amenities simply to make it financially feasible for the developer to operate based on the price of the land at I-20 and Georgia Hwy. 11.

“It’s just economics,” Crosby said. “We have to have more to offer.”

The building planned for the site has increased from the previous 8,000 square feet in June to 24,900 square feet and includes room for at least three fast-food restaurants.

Crosby said anticipated demand from the traveling public on I-20 required more gas pumps — 32 — and more space for bathrooms which will cover 4,000 square feet of the building.

The new plan’s design is similar to a travel center that JPC’s parent company, Jackson-based Jones Petroleum, operates near I-75 in Butts County, Crosby said.

It is expected to accompany JPC’s request for a conditional use permit on which the board of commissioners on June 15 delayed action until its Aug. 17 meeting. 

JPC included Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts in the latest plan. Both had committed to locate in the building from the start of JPC’s effort to gain approval of a travel center development on the 46-acre site in January, developers previously said.

Nearby residents appeared united in opposing the plan in January when JPC proposed a building of the same size but included facilities for both passenger vehicles and tractor-trailers.

Crosby said JPC has “done what the neighbors asked” and removed any features designed to serve tractor-trailers, such as operating 24 hours.

County Development Services director Judy Johnson said the latest plan JPC submitted is not a truck stop “in any sense of the phrase.”  

She said the plan does not include an area for tractor-trailer drivers to park overnight. It also does not have fuel dispensers to accommodate any kind of large commercial truck or vehicle, such as tractor-trailers, dump truck or buses.  

All fuel dispensers will be for regular sized motor vehicles, and no shower or laundry facilities — a standard feature of a traditional truck stop — are proposed, Johnson said.

LeAnne Long of the River Cove Civic Association said residents in her neighborhood near the site have “major concerns”about the changes to JPC’s June plan.

“Since they have changed the entire concept plan that was originally submitted, a new Letter of Intent should be required and the entire process should start from the beginning to allow for community input,” said Long, a former county commissioner.  

Long said she and River Cove President Wayne Pugh in May met with JPC officials who agreed to “some changes to the original concept plan” that pared down the plan to 10 acres of the 46-acre site. The Planning Commission gave its approval, she noted. 

However, she said JPC then presented a somewhat different site plan at the June 15 county commission meeting that did not include enough buffer space to meet the requirements of the Brick Store overlay district in which it is located.  

She said she believed the new plan for the facility is merely one that could be easily altered to serve tractor-trailers in the future.

“The current site plan is just a redo of the truck stop design without the truck parking. However, space is there and waiting for the additional change,” Long said.

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