Residents at an open house on Thursday, May 9, made known in strong terms their displeasure with a proposed truck stop in south Spanish Valley. The meeting was also attended by a representative from Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores who drove in from Layton to meet with the public.
The meeting was called together by Love’s real estate agent Kym Van Dyke and local representative from the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration Bryan Torgerson.
Roughly 30 others attended the meeting, many residents of Spanish Valley who live near or adjacent to where the Love’s is planned to be built.
Among residents’ primary concerns was how close the planned Love’s will be to homes in Spanish Valley. The distance between the travel stop and the closest homes on Sunny Acres Lane in Spanish Valley will be less than 100 feet, according to preliminary plans. One resident said at the meeting that the travel stop would be “literally” in his backyard and his neighbors’ yards.”
San Juan County zoning specifies the lot as being a part of its “Highway Commercial Zone,” which extends roughly 500 feet in either direction from Highway 191. Most houses on Sunny Acres Lane that will be next to the development are also in the commercial zone.
Kathleen Kelly, a business consultant in Grand County who lives near where the Love’s is planning to go, appealed to ethics in her comments to Van Dyke.
“This will be a fabulous case study when I teach ethics in my business class to students at [Utah State University] because legal does not always mean ethical,” Kelly said.
One of the most common questions asked by residents at the meeting was about the reason that Love’s picked the particular spot near Sunny Acres Lane to build the travel stop.
Van Dyke responded to the questions, saying that a combination of factors (including the availability of land, the seller of the land, the distance from the highway and others) led to his decision.
Kelly said that it was incumbent upon Van Dyke to appeal to his superiors to choose a different location.
“There are times when you have to be the hero and stand up and say, ‘You know what? I made a mistake. I’m sorry. This is not the right place for it,'” Kelly said. “I need both of you to be heroes.”
Mike Bondio, human resources director for the City Market in Moab, also attended the meeting. He said in his comments advocating for Love’s to not be located near houses that he did not represent Kroger, City Market’s parent company.
Bondio said that Kroger has a policy of not building stores with fuel centers within 500 yards of a residence. Stores within that distance of a residence, according to Bondio, may be built, but not with a fuel center.
“At Kroger, we try to protect people,” Bondio said. “We try to limit the noise; we’re concerned about people’s safety; we monitor, like you do, our fuel centers 24/7. We don’t drop it in the middle of a neighborhood; it’s not good common sense.”
He later said he appreciates Love’s coming to town. “I want the competition,” Bondio said, “just not in that area,” since it is so close to residential developments.
Torgerson has said previously that the deal with Love’s is “pretty much a done deal,” and that SITLA’s ideal timeline for closing the deal was in the next two to three months, although, he noted, that did not account for Love’s planned timeline. A Love’s spokeswoman recently told The Times-Independent that a groundbreaking is at least a year away.