Some New Haven residents and officials are resisting what they
say is a national truck-service company’s attempt to strong-arm its
way into the community.
“New Haven never backs down from a battle,” said City Councilman
Paul Farquhar. “We are not afraid to stick up for something we think
Ogden, Utah-based Flying J Inc. recently petitioned Allen County
Circuit Court to allow the company to build a 17-acre travel plaza
on the northeast quadrant of Minnich Road and Indiana 930 near
In late April, the New Haven Board of Zoning Appeals upheld City
Planning Director Brian Yoh’s ruling against Flying J, whose travel
plaza would include a 24-hour restaurant, fast-food options, car-
and truck-fueling, and parking for 187 trucks.
Yoh, also the city’s zoning enforcer, said the site was zoned
general commercial based on the city’s master plan. Fueling for
tractor-trailers and 24-hour truck parking does not fit the zoning,
he has said.
Rather than accept the board’s ruling, Flying J opted to petition
the circuit court to review the board’s decision. The judge could
uphold or reverse the board’s ruling. The city or Flying J could
then appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals.
“I would hope that the representatives of Flying J would have
listened to the public,” Yoh said Tuesday. “Clearly them appealing
this to circuit court suggests that maybe they didn’t hear or just
didn’t care. That concerns me.”
Flying J Project Director Michael T. Miller, whom the company
identified as the spokesman for the case, did not return multiple
phone calls seeking comment.
Opponents of the travel plaza packed an April 20 hearing to blast
the proposal. Some said the added traffic would endanger children at
a nearby school and increase noise pollution. Yet residents
repeatedly said they were not against a truck stop in New Haven –
just a truck stop at Minnich Road and Indiana 930.
New Haven resident Shelia Berning is forming a citizens group to
thwart Flying J’s plans. Berning lives in a subdivision near the
“I don’t know if I will make a difference, but I hope this does,
because I don’t want that there,” said Berning, who is enlisting
supporters through phone calls and word-of-mouth. “I don’t have
anything against truck stops, but I think they need to find another
Yoh recommended Flying J consider land east of I-469, away from
the city. That land is zoned correctly for Flying J, Yoh said, but
the company was not receptive.
“My orders are very clear,” Yoh said. “New Haven has spoken
through a comprehensive plan … my master document that is the
blueprint I have to build towards and that was influenced entirely
by the citizens,” Yoh said. “I have a very strong charge to carry
that out regardless of what a corporation from Utah wants to
A New Haven planner since 1993, Yoh said he has never had a
company appeal a decision by the board.
The plaza would mean at least 100 jobs with a $2 million payroll,
a company official has said. Flying J operates about 170
“state-of-the-art” travel plazas in 41 states and employs 12,500
people, according to the company’s Web site.
“I think they want that spot and they want to get it at any cost,
and they have got the money to do it probably, I’m afraid,” Berning
Miller represented Flying J at April’s public hearing and told
citizens and the board the company intends to be amicable in the
community. Now, citizens are doubtful.
“What I see going on is they want their way,” New Haven resident
Tim Doyle said. “Now when they came here they said, ‘We are going to
be good neighbors, we love the community, we are going to be a great
asset.’ They are twisting our arm now, to get us to do what they
want us to do.”
Jim Federoff, a local attorney hired by Flying J, said there will
be no additional testimony before the judge, who will review all
evidence presented at April’s board hearing. He said a ruling could
come soon after New Haven delivers the appropriate documents for
New Haven At-large Councilman Ron Steinman owns a business near
Flying J’s intended site. He expects the land to be put to use
eventually, but said the development must fit the zoning. He called
Flying J “a good organization and company.”
The travel plaza would fill only a section of the 53-acre site.
Miller said the company considered plans for a hotel and retail
development on the remaining land.
“The Board of Zoning Appeals knew that the public was against it
and so did Flying J,” Berning said, “but they don’t care. They want
to push their end, and so we have to stand up to it.”
Courts to decide
Here is how Flying J Inc.’s proposal for a travel plaza on the
northeast quadrant of Minnich Road and Indiana 930 near Interstate
469 ended up in Allen County Circuit Court:
♦ Flying J submitted its development plan to the New Haven
♦ Brian Yoh, New Haven planning director and zoning enforcer,
rejected the plan.
♦ Flying J appealed Yoh’s decision to New Haven’s Board of Zoning
♦ The board held a public hearing and discussion before upholding
♦ Flying J exercised its option to appeal to Allen County Circuit
Court, where a judge may review the board’s decision and decide
whether to uphold the ruling or overturn it.
♦ After this appeal, either Flying J or the city of New Haven may
appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals.
Source: Flying J attorney Jim Federoff