We could cite many reasons why residents who live near the proposed truck stop on Kanner Highway oppose this project. You've heard (or will hear) each objection from multiple local residents.
Instead, we now ask you to evaluate this project from the perspective of the entire county. Yes, the developer claims a financial benefit for Martin County. But his estimates are just that - estimates.
But why would you consider approving a project that is in direct opposition to those things in which Martin County is heavily invested? For example:
- The Martin County website is intentionally designed to attract visitors with appealing video clips of the best of our beautiful county. Will visitors feel defrauded when they exit I-95 behind a procession of tractor trailer trucks all bound for a truck stop?
- Is a parade of tractor trailer trucks off Stuart's I-95 exit congruent with our title, "Sailfish Capital of the World"? Would you plan a fishing trip to a place where a convergence of trucks is your first impression when there are many other east coast towns vying for recreational fishermen? It's bad enough that Lake Okeechobee pollution is being dumped in our waters. Do we really want to give recreational fishermen and vacationers yet another reason to go elsewhere? Do we want to encourage them to spend their discretionary dollars in other counties?
- As a result of a government and business investment partnership, Stuart was awarded "Most Beautiful City" by America in Bloom in 2008 (an award which is touted on the Stuart website). What kind of impression would we have made if a truck stop had been their first impression of Stuart - especially since Exit 101 is the only Stuart exit on I-95?
- The "Most Beautiful City" award was accompanied by "Honorable Recognition" for "Environmental Awareness" (also touted on the Stuart website). Again, would a truck stop immediately off the only Stuart exit have proclaimed that we are "environmentally aware"? Mechanics know diesel engines belch smoke more often in high humidity - a regular weather occurrence for this area! Belching smoke from processions of tractor trailers is certainly not in keeping with an "environmentally aware" community.
- The Martin County Sheriff's office has devoted extensive man-hours to deter thieves such as the "Pillowcase Bandits" from entering Martin County, even to the point of conducting a traffic stop at the I-95 exit to identify vehicles with darkly tinted windows. Why would we want to build the type of business that has a reputation for attracting a transient population at this same location?
As you can see, these objections transcend the concerns of residents living near the proposed truck stop. This is not a matter of NIMBY (Not in My Backyard). This is an issue of what is in the best interest of all of Martin County.
Please act on behalf of all Martin County residents and stop a project that is clearly the antithesis of everything that makes our county great.
Russell and Ava Pennington