Love’s Travel Stops and Country stores are working on building a truck stop in Herculaneum, but not everyone in town prepares a welcome mat.
Herculaneum officials said a representative from Love’s Travel Stops recently visited them to talk about plans to build a Love’s gas station, convenience store and truck stop on 28 acres in New York. west of I-55 and north of the roundabout at McNutt Street and Providence Way.
As of Monday, September 19, however, the company had not applied for any permits, Herculaneum officials said at the meeting of the Herculaneum council of aldermen that night.
Months-old rumors about the planned Love’s project for the city’s Third Ward prompted residents of the nearby Providence subdivision to start an online petition calling on the city to stop the company from building a Love’s facility on the site.
The “Keep Love’s away from our community” petition is on the change.org website, and by Tuesday morning, September 20, more than 800 people had signed it.
A group of at least 60 people from the Providence Subdivision attended the September 19 Council of Aldermen meeting to protest the plan, but only about a third of them were allowed into the council chambers of City Hall due to occupancy regulations.
“We live in Providence,” Scott Siegel said before the meeting. “We are not against a truck stop in Herculaneum. We are against him entering at the entrance to our housing estate.
Another Providence Subdivision resident, Eva Roesh, said the McNutt Street-Providence Way roundabout causes enough traffic problems without a Love’s Truck Stop adding more traffic to the subdivision entrance.
“The roundabout will be more dangerous,” she said.
City Administrator Jim Kasten addressed the crowd outside the building before the meeting and told them that Herculaneum would hold a full-scale public meeting with a Love spokesperson present to share project information and get feedback.
He said the meeting would be held at a Dunklin R-5 school to accommodate more people, but it could take months.
Kasten also told those gathered for the meeting that five members of the group would be allowed to speak during the citizens’ comments section.
Roesh, who was one such speaker, said she feared the truck stop would breed crime and she feared for her young daughter’s safety if the facility was built. She also mentioned the roundabout to the aldermen.
Another Providence Subdivision resident, Kathy O’Connor, said she was a teacher and feared the Love Center was a danger to young people, saying sex trafficking was common at truck stops. A number of people in the crowd applauded his statement.
Israel Clayton, who also lives in the housing estate, wondered if the pros of the proposed truck stop outweighed the cons.
Clayton, who said he was a truck driver, also said he was concerned about the crime the truck stop might bring to the area.
“Is the income worth what people are against?” He asked.
Kasten told the crowd that board members were not responding to comments and questions from the public during meetings on matters not on the agenda, adding that the board would consider requests. inclusion of items on the agenda.
After the regular session of the meeting, Kasten again spoke to the crowd outside the building and answered several questions. He said the site for Love’s proposed facility is zoned commercial C-1, which means he already has the required zoning for the area.
“It (the proposed truck stop) is licensed under C-1,” he said.
However, Kasten said the project would require a special use permit to operate 24 hours a day and the application would have to go through the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and ultimately be approved by the Board of Aldermen.
Kasten also told the crowd that the Missouri Department of Transportation plans to widen I-55 and make other improvements along the highway from Pevely to Festus in the next few years, which could eventually lead Love officials to delay their project.
Love’s facilities offer “gasoline, diesel fuel, fresh coffee, catering offerings and more,” according to the company’s website.