Columbus will have a truck stop next year when Ricker’s expands its convenience store at the Walesboro exit of Interstate 65.

Ricker’s, located at 3545 West 450S, received approval for a truck fueling center Tuesday from the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals in a unanimous vote.

The truck stop will be constructed on two vacant lots totaling 1.46 acres next to the gas station and convenience store, said Jeff Rocker, a Columbus attorney who appeared with Travis Smith, the Anderson-based company’s real estate director.

The expansion, which would bring three new fueling pumps, is meant to accommodate recreational vehicles, semis and trucks pulling boats or all-terrain vehicles that come through the area, Rocker said. The existing layout of the site makes it difficult for large vehicles to get in and out, he said.

“This expansion directs all that traffic,” Rocker said.

Unlike some other truck stops, the Ricker’s facility would not have overnight parking, shower facilities or weigh scales when it is constructed, Rocker said.

The project was supported by Mark Pratt, president of Indusites Inc., who attended the meeting.

Indusites Inc. was created in 1976 through a group of local investors that pooled financial resources to develop industrial land in Columbus.

“It seems to be the most appropriate use at this time,” Pratt said.

After the meeting, Smith said construction would be done in late summer or early fall of 2018, with a timetable to have the truck stop open by the end of 2018, he said.

When trying to enter the convenience-store site, drivers of semis or other large vehicles now often run into curbs, Smith said.

Expansion will address that situation, he said.

“We had a lot of customers that were asking for it specifically,” Smith said.

BZA member Zack Ellison said he agreed on the need for a truck stop at the Exit 64 interstate exchange, and called it an enhancement for the site.

Hotel request approved

The Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved a request from Athens Hotel Partners LLC for a flood hazard standards variance to renovate the new Holiday Inn, on the site of the former Comfort Inn, at 2485 W. Jonathan Moore Pike.

The company, based in Fishers, plans to remodel the first- and second-floors of the hotel while adding a third floor and constructing three small building additions.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com