Dear Editor:

Recent comments about the proposed Love’s truck stop in Spanish Valley give a clear picture of which groups in our community carry the most weight: businesses at the top and residents at the bottom. Rather than question how Love’s chose a U.S. Highway 191 tract next to a neighborhood, officials blame residents for building homes in a commercial zone.

Some residents of Sunny Acres Lane have lived there for decades. What they couldn’t have imagined then was a truck stop with 53 parking spots for idling trucks behind them. What they sadly should have known back then is that local officials might not have their backs in a face-off with business interests.

Residents of Spanish Valley are now being accused of a selfish “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) attitude. The truth is, that label is absolutely correct. Pull into a truck stop for 5 minutes and the experience is typically not offensive. But spend 2 hours in one listening and sniffing. After that experience, I doubt many people would welcome a 24/7 truck stop in their neighborhood. 

At a May meeting, a Love’s representative said company policy calls for a 500-foot buffer from residential areas. At the same meeting, a City Market employee said it requires a 500-yard buffer from its gas pumps. For reasons that have never been explained, Love’s seeks to buy a site that is as close as 25-feet to Sunny Acres Lane backyards.

Truck stops are just a different sort of animal than other businesses. Lynn Jackson admitted as much in his opinion column (“Where’s the love?” on June 27) when he listed concerns about “idling diesel trucks, impacts to night skies, impacts to adjoining neighborhoods, and increased crime through drugs” and said those concerns “have some merit.” Nonetheless, the love Love’s justification machine is now gearing up in earnest:

We need a Love’s truck stop to alleviate truck parking on Main Street — Who knew that parked trucks were a bigger problem than those driving through. It’s mighty hypocritical when residents and businesses near the center of town are given a NIMBY free pass while those in Spanish Valley are told, in effect, to accept the trucks or move. 

We need a Love’s truck stop as an alternative source for fuel and food — For those who have forgotten, there’s a full-service Shell station with adjacent parking area 2.5-miles north of the Love’s site. Was Jackson serious when he wrote in this paper that Spanish Valley residents should shop in the valley to avoid adding to Moab’s tourist congestion?

Love’s will bring desperately needed jobs — Take a stroll around Moab and look at the number of “Help Wanted” signs. When the grocery store, the hospital, and the police department cannot fill vacancies because candidates can’t find affordable housing, we have a much more serious problem than simply the absence of good jobs.

The proposed Love’s truck stop site is a just plain bad location that no amount of resident blaming or corporate drum-beating will make look better. San Juan County has high hopes for longterm residential development in Spanish Valley. The county now has the opportunity to show existing residents this hope is justified by saying “no” to the Love’s application.

Mark Shapiro