Moving forward

Rezoning request approved for travel center

Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs
Webster County Board of Supervisors approved rezoning of this land at Poplar Avenue and Highway 20 from agricultural to commercial. The plan for this area is a new travel center.

Plans for a new travel center east of Fort Dodge near U.S. Highway 20 moved forward Tuesday morning.

The Webster County Board of Supervisors approved a request to rezone a portion of land from an agricultural zone to a commercial one near the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and Poplar Avenue. The supervisors approved the request 3-0, with Nick Carlson and Mark Campbell absent.

At the beginning of August, the Webster County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-2 to recommend denying the switch from the agricultural preservation designation to a general commercial one due to concerns over traffic.

At that meeting, Kevin Stumpf, the property owner who is seeking to develop the center, said he had McClure Engineering Co., of Fort Dodge, prepare a plan to redesign the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and Poplar Avenue to address those traffic concerns.

The Planning and Zoning Commissioners said they were also concerned that this particular request would establish a precedent in other areas of the county based on its location and referenced “spot zoning,” which is when there is a small portion of one type of zone surrounded by another type, such as in this case where a small portion of commercial zone would be surrounded by agricultural zones.

-Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs
The northwest corner of Highway 20 and Poplar Avenue will be the home of a new travel center in the near future.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Jeffrey Johnson presented details of the proposal Tuesday morning. He said that the Planning and Zoning staff recommends approval of the rezoning request under several conditions, including requiring Stumpf to pave Poplar Avenue “from U.S. Highway 20 to a minimum of 100 feet beyond applicant’s property line and improvements within the U.S. Highway 20 corridor per Iowa Department of Transportation requirements.”

In addition, Stumpf will be required to reimburse the Webster County Secondary Road Department for all future costs of maintenance and repair of the improved roadway.

Now that the Board of Supervisors approved the zoning request, the next step is for the construction plans to be drawn and approved by the DOT and Webster County.

Once that is complete, bids will commence on the transportation improvements. After those transportation improvements begin, the building permit will be issued. The county road improvements on Poplar Avenue will need to be accepted by the Board of Supervisors and the DOT transportation improvements completed before the certificate of occupancy can be issued. That certificate is expected to be issued in the fall of 2022.

The site plan for the travel center includes a 9,750-square-foot restaurant and convenience store with diesel and gasoline pumps.

-Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs
Highway 20 sees many larger vehicles and semi trucks and soon they will have a new travel center to serve them at the intersection of Highway 20 and Poplar Avenue.

While there was extensive discussion about this proposal at the Aug. 10 Planning and Zoning meeting, only one citizen came forward with a question at the Board of Supervisors meeting. Kris Fleener asked, “The rezoning area is 24 acres. Will the proposed truckstop and restaurant encompass the entire 24 acres?”

Johnson and Supervisor Bob Thode explained that about 24 acres of land will be rezoned, but the travel station is not expected to take up all of it right away.

Johnson said there are essentially two parcels of land being rezoned, one for the travel center and another for future development.

Thode said if Stumpf does not begin work on the rest of the land by January 2023 that parcel will revert back to an agricultural zone. If Stumpf does choose to build on that parcel, he will be required to obtain a new building permit and have it approved.

The Board of Supervisors and Johnson also addressed a concern about the well water in the area, but they explained that arrangements have been made to get water into that area without the concern of drying any wells.

There was no further discussion and the supervisors voted by roll call. Supervisors Keith Dencklau, Niki Conrad, and Bob Thode each voted in favor of the rezoning.


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