Wichita’s first Love’s Truck Stop will have an 80-foot lighted sign and an RV Park that will provide space for travelers to park for up to four days, thanks to the approval of rezoning of two parcels of land from Limited and General Industrial to Planned Unit Development.

Residents of the Northeast Millair neighborhood east of the I-135 freeway and 21st Street North attended the council meeting where the rezoning was approved, but were not allowed to address the council.

Mayor Brandon Whipple explained that the public hearing on the rezoning was held by the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission on  April 27 and the law does not allow the council to hold another public hearing. No one from the community spoke at the MAPC meeting and the commission voted 13-0 to recommend the city approve the rezoning.

Millair Neighborhood Association president Aujanae Bennett was one of the people turned away from the council meeting.

She said she didn’t get any notice of the planning commission meeting and would have been there if she had known about it. 

The Love’s Truck Stop will be the first in Wichita for the Oklahoma City-based chain. The planned complex will have fuel pumps for both cars and trucks, charging stations for electric vehicles, a restaurant with a drive-thru, a semi wash and repair business, the RV park and a dog exercise area. It will be located just west of I-135 and east of the ICT21 Industrial Park and the freeway on land being remediated from an old refinery.

The council noted that the site is still being monitored for groundwater contamination and the new development has to comply with allowing KDHE access. A six-inch concrete and asphalt cap is required to be placed on top of the clean fill dirt brought in during remediation and the fuel operations will have to meet all federal and state requirements for environmental safety.

Residents in the nearby neighborhood did address the District 6 Advisory Board on May 8 and the DAB recommended against allowing the rezoning. But no protest petitions were filed.

Council members pointed out that the truck stop could be built with General Industrial zoning so the only added features were the 80-foot sign and the RV park. 

The intersection already has three taller lights.

Bennett said she does not object to the signage, but she’s very concerned about pollution from having semis idling overnight and the potential for human trafficking, drug trafficking and prostitution that could result from the truck stop and an RV park allowing multiple-day stays.

“They will have gasoline and diesel storage tanks in the ground and those have to be vented, adding more pollution to the air,” she said. “And the idea of having 100 semis idling 24 hours a day within a quarter mile of my house really bothers me.”

Bennett’s neighborhood sits atop the toxic groundwater contamination plume that resulted from a chemical spill at the Union Pacific Railyard at 29th and Grove decades ago. Residents learned only last fall that the soil and water underneath their homes was contaminated by cancer-causing chemicals and only this month learned that the area has liver cancer rates that double the rest of the county and state.

District 1 Councilman Brandon Johnson added an amendment to the rezoning motion that would require notification of the adjoining neighborhood if ongoing KDHE monitoring of the area detects contamination.