‘We don’t want it,’ Sunset Road residents against T-Ricks store rezoning plans, concerned with safety, noise and hazardous chemicals

Arkansas News

EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) — Would you want a truck stop near your neighborhood? That’s the question some residents who live on Sunset Road in El Dorado are posing.

“If that comes into effect we’re going to have people up to 24 hours wondering if tonight is the night that something is going to happen to my house,” Robyn Mendenhall said.

The El Dorado Planning and Zoning Commission met Tuesday afternoon to hear a rezoning request that would change 8.4 acres of land near Sunset Road from a family residential area to a commercial zone.

“I was kind of watching him during the meeting and he just didn’t seem interested in our concerns,” Mendenhall said. “He acted, in my perception, as if he was going to push through regardless of what it took to get this done.”

The petition for a change in rezoning was denied because the petition addressed rezoning the 8.4 acres of land.

However, the sketches that were presented during the meeting only included about 2 acres of the land’s entirety.

According to Law Attorney Gary Burbank, the application should have stated specifically what was being petitioned. Therefore, the request was denied.

Many residents like Pauli Paulus attended the meeting. She has organized petitions from residents and compiled signatures from everyone that lives on that road.

She and her husband have been living in their home for several years and their normally peaceful and quiet neighborhood will be disrupted by all of the trucks in and out of the area.

“We have all ages living here and just recently in the last few years young families have moved into our neighborhood. There’s bicycle riding with their parents and people jogging and walking,” Paulus said.

“Those activities are not the activities you do with the backdrop of an 18 wheeler parking lot. The main concern is the noise that the 18 wheelers will cause while they are turning in an turning around.”

But not only that, residents say the chemicals that these trucks haul are dangerous. They say one sniff of it all you get and for Lawrence Watkins, that’s concerning.

“The exhaust from vehicles bothers me,” he said.

The owner has said he would put a buffer up but Mendenhall, a mother of three, says that won’t control the safety. Her three kids frequently walk to the store using a shortcut on Old Farm Road.

“Where they are putting the parking area in, they would have to walk right passed that. If you’ve been in the trucking community. If you have family that are truckers ask them what happens in the parking lots of the trucks stop,” she said.

“There are a lot of safe drivers. There a lot of good drivers, good people that are drivers but they are the ones that are trafficking. They are the ones bringing in the drugs. They are the ones that you don’t necessarily want around your kids.

There’s no happy-medium for these residents and they say don’t want to see it all and will do what it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen.

The request was denied, again, but the business could petition again for a smaller section of land. We reached out to Jeffrey Sawyer, the attorney representing the business, for a comment but haven’t heard back.

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