​Proposed Monteagle Travel Center Faces Hurdles

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Rodney Kilgore appeared before the Monteagle Planning Commission July 7, requesting permission for a project prerequisite to opening a travel center along I-24, exit 135. The request was denied. The proposed travel center may also encounter zoning issues.

Kilgore and co-franchisees Tammy Graber and Brian Graber entered into a franchise agreement with TravelCenters of America to open a Petro Shopping Center, expected to begin business in the first quarter of 2021.

Kilgore, who owns Monteagle Wrecker Service, presented the planning commission with a site plan for adding two bays to his shop. The proposed travel center would incorporate Kilgore’s current business.

“It will all be combined together later on,” Kilgore said. “We’re trying to get approval for Petro. We need two more bays to get approved to be a truck stop.”

Garret Haynes with the Southeast Tennessee Development District recommended the commission deny the request.

“There are multiple requirements that are still outstanding,” Haynes said. “My primary issue with it is that the property is still four different properties and needs to be consolidated into one lot. This needs to come before a site plan is presented. Outside of that, the level of intensity of revisions that need to be made leads me to not recommend approval.”

Planning Commission Chair David Oliver advised Kilgore his site plan would need to meet landscaping, paving and set back requirements stipulated in city ordinances. Planning Commission member Tony Gilliam added that storm water runoff would need to be addressed and a “solid fence” erected that blocked the site from view.

Oliver proposed the city consider requiring a performance bond from contractors for big projects “when the development impacts the neighborhood.”

Gilliam, who also serves as vice mayor, will pursue the city adopting an ordinance requiring a performance bond.

The zoning complication surfaced during the workshop prior to the Planning Commission meeting.

Given the opportunity to examine Monteagle’s new zoning map, many residents questioned the rezoning from R3 residential to commercial of a tract that would be the location of the proposed travel center. Several of the residents owned neighboring property.

Haynes said typically residents were notified of proposed zoning changes that impacted them.

The rezoning occurred between 2015 and 2019 when the most recent map was approved. None of the current planning commission members knew when or why the rezoning occurred. The commission will review minutes from past meetings to seek rectification.

A future planning commission meeting will give residents the opportunity to identify other possible zoning errors on the 2019 map.