An Atlanta company, Cone Commercial Real Estate, is proposing to build a tractor-trailer parking lot on about 5.5 acres off the Interstate Service Road in Graham facing the interstate.
The matter came before Graham’s planning board Tuesday night.
Board member Chad Huffine, a local engineer, who serves as an extraterritorial member of Graham’s planning board, asked to be recused from the item’s consideration inasmuch as he had provided engineering services to the company seeking to establish what was described as a truck parking area.
In a tightly configured layout, the company proposes to have 122 spots for a combination of tractor-trailers and just trailers.
[Story continues below layout of proposed truck/trailer parking lot.]
In some cases, the trailers would abut each other with no space between, sometimes as many as three deep, the planning board was told.
The new concept has taken hold mostly around larger metropolitan areas, like Atlanta, but closer to home, there are similar layouts near Charlotte, Winston-Salem, High Point, and Greensboro.
The concept, according to Matt Wall, a Burlington attorney who represented the company before Graham’s planning board on Tuesday night, is to create a place for drivers to change out their trailers – some full, some empty – in a location convenient to the interstate.
Huffine elaborated that the owner would “rent” spaces for “box-type” trailers for short- or long-term rentals.
Because the trucks or trailers might be left overnight, Graham’s rezoning requires a special use permit, a zoning designation that carries with it a higher standard for testimony and evidence.
Inasmuch as there had been no notice that the Tuesday night planning board meeting would have that standard, the board ultimately decided to consider the project using its regular procedures, reserving the special use permit standards for when the matter comes before the city council next month.
Special use permit decisions require witnesses to be sworn in and evidence of credentials to be presented by those testifying. The expression of simple “opinions” by neighbors or interested residents are either not allowed or are to be disregarded by the council in reaching a decision since the council’s deliberations are considered “quasi-judicial” and thus have to follow more court-like procedures.
The primary concern voiced by some planning board members was that of security, with concerns that full or empty trailers could attract vandals – either graffiti artists in the case of empty trailers or potentially thieves if the trailers still had cargo.
Planning board member Michael Benesch repeatedly raised the security concern and ultimately made a motion to approve the special use permit but with an additional condition that there be on-site security with a guardhouse at the single entry into the lot and another condition that opaque fencing be provided around the entire perimeter of the lot.
Another board member, Eric Crissman, said the company making the request would know the factors affecting its success better than the planning board, suggesting that the company would surely provide a degree of security comparable to its other facilities and that the board not try to micromanage the decision.
Benesch’s motion prevailed 3-2, with Tony Bailey and board chairman Dean Ward siding with Benesch; Crissman and board member John Wooten voted against, both suggesting that such specificity with respect to a guardhouse and on-site security was not necessary.