Ralph Parks: Martin County landowner says he will withdraw controversial truck stop application

MARTIN COUNTY — A company proposing a controversial truck stop off Interstate 95 has verbally withdrawn its application for county approval of the project.

Ralph Parks, owner of Bruner Parks LLC, has told the county in a telephone conversation he wants to stop pursuing an approval of the truck stop's master plan, said Martin County Principal Planner Harry King.

The withdrawal is not official, King said. Parks plans to send a letter Wednesday morning with his formal withdrawal. If he does, that will stop the project.

Neighbors have mobilized to stop the project , saying it will attract traffic, crime and pollution.

Parks would not own or run the proposed truck stop. But because he owns vacant land where the project would be located, he is listed as an applicant for the master plan approval by Martin County.

His land is adjacent to a Marathon gas station and Dairy Queen shop on the southwest side of Kanner Highway and I-95. Station owner Robert Stevenson had said that if the county would approve the truck stop, he would buy the land from Parks. Stevenson said he would then expand his gas station into a stop with 83 overnight parking spaces.

Parks declined to describe his conversation with the county and the motivation for his withdrawal.

"We had somebody try to buy property from us," he said. "I was joining in because they were trying to buy property. It wouldn't have been my truck stop."

King said Parks has indicated he does not intend to pursue a truck stop on the property anymore.

The vacant land has been designated by the county to accommodate restaurants and a hotel. Parks had applied to establish a limited industrial zoning district instead, which allows truck stops. He wants to continue to pursue that change, King said.

The request is under review by county staff. Two public hearings need to happen before commissioners vote on whether to grant Parks' request.

King said most of the land between Florida's Turnpike and I-95, where the truck stop would be located, is already zoned for industrial uses. The 9,689-square foot facility would accommodate the existing Dairy Queen shop and a convenience store.

Several residential developments are located west of the site and off Kanner Highway. The area known as Tropical Farms houses communities such as the Florida Club, located about 700 feet from the proposed stop.

oe Rizzolo, the club's homeowners association president, has joined the presidents of six associations to start the Martin County Homeowners Alliance. Their purpose is to lobby county commissioners to reject the truck stop. He said about 2,200 homes have joined the alliance.

Rizzolo said he is happy to hear about Parks' withdrawal. The alliance's next step is to lobby commissioners to create zoning rules that don't allow trucks anywhere in Martin County, he said.

"We want to bury this thing," Rizzolo said. "This could happen again. We don't want this in any part of the county."

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