City councilman's rezoning bid for trucking site OK'd

CHESTER -- A Chester City Councilman hauled off a victory Monday night when the Chester County Council allowed him to move his family's trucking business into a residential area.

Alan Clack, a first-term City Council member, had asked the county to rezone 10 acres of family land to accommodate D&C Trucking, a company of 31 tractor-trailers and nearly 50 workers that belongs to Clack and his sister. The land in question is 3.7 miles along Great Falls Highway from the business' current location. The vote in Clack's favor was first reported Monday evening at heraldonline.com.

Nearby property owners opposed the move, and several voiced their fears of extra truck traffic and pollution during Monday's meeting.

Some have accused the County Council of caving to a prominent businessman's request. Opponents also point out that the council's move overturns a unanimous vote by the local planning commission to deny Clack's request. The council hasn't overturned a commission decision since 2004.

Planning officials have said the rezoning goes against the county's land use plan.

Chester County adopted that plan in 1996 and it outlines where different kinds of homes, businesses and plants can be built. In 2005 and 2006, the county's planning commission worked with the Catawba Regional Council of Governments to update that plan, which was designed to last 20 years.

So far, the county has spent $28,580 developing and updating the plan, according to figures provided by Catawba Regional.

Monday night's 3-1 vote was the third and final one on the issue. Council members Mary Guy, Tommy Martin and Archie Lucas supported Clack's request -- as they had in the previous two votes -- and all three leaders have maintained they're protecting jobs in a county with the third-highest unemployment rate in the state.

"If I felt, personally, that the trucking company or the diesel fuel was going to affect the livelihood or health (of the community) ... there's no way that I would vote for it," Guy said. "So I studied it. And I just could not see the harm. ... I'm doing it (voting) for the betterment of Chester County and for jobs."

But Clack doesn't plan to create more jobs. He said he's moving because his rent doubled in January and he'll get a good price on the family land he plans to buy.

The only County Councilman opposed to the move was Brad Jordan, who believes the county shouldn't suddenly create industrial sites in residential areas. Jordan voted against the move three times.

Councilmen Alex Oliphant and Joe Branham abstained from voting. Oliphant said he wouldn't vote because he does business with D&C, and Branham said he wouldn't because his family owns land across the road from the site.

The property Clack wants is 90 acres, although the trucking company would use only 10 acres. Clack said his father started the trucking business in 1991, and the company was actually housed on the site in question until it moved to its current site in 2001.

After the meeting, nearby resident Brian Knight said he was "infuriated but not surprised."

Knight, who spoke against the trucking company during the meeting, said the traffic and pollution threats posed by the trucking company are a "recipe for disaster for everything in the surrounding area."

"It serves nobody, nobody, any real advantage," he said.

Clack, who did not speak during the meeting, could not be reached for comment afterward.