Neighborhood fighting RaceTrac development over traffic and noise concerns

Residents appealing county's approval

LAKELAND, Fla. - A Polk County neighborhood is standing up to big business.

For the last three years, residents in the Christina subdivision in Lakeland have been fighting the RaceTrac gas station and convenience store. The Atlanta-based company wants to build right next door.

The residents worry it will disrupt their slice of serenity.

"It doesn't fit here at all," said Bill Christy, one of the residents leading the fight.

Traffic and noise are the biggest concerns for the residents.

The RaceTrac plans call for a fairly large, 24/7 operation, with 12 pumps that can fuel 24 cars at once. It's similar to many RaceTrac layouts around Florida.

"In reality, this is a Davis versus Goliath situation.  We're the David and RaceTrac is the Goliath," said Dorsey Hightower, who is also against the development.

The "David" in this case actually won the fight three years ago, and successfully convinced the county that a RaceTrac did not fit the zoning.

But that wasn't the end of it.

"RaceTrac has come back in with construction plans to put it elsewhere," said Chandra Frederick, Director of Land Development for Polk County. "They could technically break ground tomorrow if nobody had appealed."

The residents appealed the county's approval of the latest plans.

Frederick says even if they win, the company will likely be allowed to tweak the plans again and then move forward.

"I respect the residents of Christina for expressing their concerns and I can understand that they're frustrated," she said. "We believe this RaceTrac and the residents can coexist."

Christy said they're not giving up.

"We feel like we have a good argument."

A spokesperson for the company did not address the dispute, but released the following statement:

"RaceTrac looks forward to bringing our new store model to our neighbors in Lakeland. Our goal is to make people's lives simpler and more enjoyable; and this new RaceTrac location will offer indoor and outdoor seating, Swirl World frozen yogurt and endless beverage options to our Lakeland neighbors."

The county will hear the residents' appeal during a public hearing set for June 18.

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