SWEETWATER COUNTY– After considering resident concerns and words of support, the Sweetwater County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the conditional use permit to build a Love’s Travel Stop west of Green River.
The location site is approximately 4,000 feet from the Jamestown Rio-Vista Residential Subdivision.
SCJ Alliance submitted the application, and now that it has been approved, construction is expected to start April 2020, after the winter months. According to Kym Van Dyke, Love’s Travel Stop’s Real Estate Manager, construction typically takes seven to eight months.
The travel stop will include a fueling pumps, a convenience store, a fast food restaurant, and a tire shop. Van Dyke said other Love’s employs roughly 40 to 60 employees per location.
The project will provide 100 truck parking stalls, 85 passenger vehicle parking stalls, and four RV parking stalls.
On September 11, the Planning and Zoning Commissioner approved the conditional use permit 4-0, with one member absent from the meeting.
The Love’s Travel Stop has been the center of controversy for the past several months, with over 50 members of the community signing a petition against the travel stop.
Resident concerns include:
- Negative economic effects on both competitive and non-competitive businesses
- Bad air quality produced from the trucks
- Garbage improperly maintained at the site
- Trucks parking on Highway 374 during closures
- Traffic congestion
- Inadequate distances for I-80 off and on ramps
- River contamination
- Inadequate roads
Analysis of Traffic Congestion
A Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) was completed by WYDOT to address the issues of traffic congestion and increase in delays.
According to Eric Bingham, County Land Use Director, said that Level of Service (LOS) is used to predict delay times and congestion.
Bingham described Level Of Service as, “a qualitative term describing operating conditions a driver will experience while traveling on a particular street or highway during a specific time interval.”
LOS C (less than 15-25 seconds/vehicle) is the considered the minimum standard for the study intersections.
According to the TIA, at any given time throughout the day, the travel stop location will operate at a LOS C or better, once the travel stop is completed and in business.
An analysis of the ramp distances showed that the I-80 off and on ramps exceed the required distances.
Jamestown resident and co-director of the Jamestown-Rio Vista Water District, Kael Jasperson, spoke in support of the travel center. He said that the travel stop may increase traffic, but that road closures already happen and will continue to happen.
He said that road closures are something the community has “simply got to live with”.
Worries Over Trash Containment
One of the major concerns residents expressed was the litter that could end up surrounding the travel stop. Jamestown resident, Dallas Koons, spoke to the commissioners against the travel stop, and trash was one of his main points.
Koons provided photos of the Love’s Travel Stop located in Wamsutter, which showed large amounts trash surrounding the facility. Koons said Love’s probably made the same promises to Wamsutter about containing trash, and he believes the same issue will happen in Jamestown.
Van Dyke said that they are aware of the situation in Wamsutter, and he believes action is being taken to reduce the amount of trash surrounding the travel stop.
He also said they are aware of the wind in Sweetwater County, and how it typically blows west to east. They will be placing fencing on the east side of the facility to help catch trash so it doesn’t go any further.
Van Dyke said employees also go around the outside of the facilities to pick up litter. He said that Love’s is not the ones littering, but they do what they can to contain the trash.
Chairman Wally Johnson said he is bothered by the situation in Wamsutter, but that the Town of Wamsutter should be on top of that. Commissioner Randy Wendling said the town has talked about it several times during council meetings and they are working to resolve the issue.
Commissioner Roy Lloyd said that it is Love’s Travel Stop’s and the local management’s responsibility to contain the trash. He added that the Jamestown residents will be a primary customer base for Love’s. Therefore, he told Van Dyke that the county is placing faith in Love’s to address issues people see, and to respect the land.
Commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld echoed Lloyd’s remarks, adding that the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission has done a great job putting the language into the permit to ensure Love’s will handle issues such as litter. She said Love’s needs to follow through or they may struggle with a loyal customer base.
Supporting the Travel Stop
Jasperson asked the commissioners, on behalf of the water district, to support the travel stop.
He said the water district built the water line in Jamestown so the lands could be developed. He noted that a travel stop was not his first choice for projects, but that Love’s is the only one showing interest at the moment.
Jasperson believes the travel stop will stimulate growth in the area, and it is a good opportunity for the water district.
He added that the travel stop will help replace mid-level retail jobs that community members have lost with the closing of local stores, as well as increase tax revenue.
“I-80 is an asset,” Jasperson said. “We need to develop it in a way to benefit our communities.”
Chairman Johnson added that having another travel stop will help alleviate the traffic congestion on Elk Street in Rock Springs. He believes that giving truck drivers another option will limit the number of drivers who exit on Elk Street.
Johnson also said the county needs to support development, as he believes the county is “headed for some very rough times” in relation to the energy industry.
“This community needs to promote quality development in this county, and this project meets that criteria,” Johnson said.
Click here to view the complete conditional use permit report, which starts on page 72.