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Wellsville: Embattled Hwy. 89/91 ‘Sardinz’ truck stop finally approved

May 9th, 2014 Posted in Opinion

By Sarah Romero

WELLSVILLE—His truck stop was finally approved, but there’s still a long road ahead for developer Steve Kyriopoulos.

The planning commission unanimously voted April 12 that the truck stop on U.S. Highway 89/91 was “an allowable use,” nearly three years after Kyriopoulos submitted his original proposal. However, the commissioners said Kyriopoulos must fulfill several conditions before beginning the project.

truckStop-300x300Planning Commission Chairwoman Ruth Maughan said that once Kyriopoulos fulfills the conditions, he’ll bring it back to the commission for final approval.

“We’ll look and see if they’ve made the changes we want and what we’re expecting and then we’ll move on from there,” Maughan said.

Planning consultant Jay Nielson submitted a seven-page report to the planning commission, outlining the 22 conditions Kyriopoulos must fulfill before final approval. These include lighting requirements, a tentative “phasing” plan, access and traffic considerations, and architectural-design elements.

The commission hopes these conditions will alleviate some concerns that residents have expressed during the past three years. Some residents, especially those living in the subdivision across the highway from the proposed truck stop at the entrance to Sardine Canyon, are concerned about diesel emissions, safety, noise, pollution and public safety.

“We will have a fatality there,” resident Lisa Parkinson said during the public hearing. “It’s inevitable. It could be someone we know, it could be someone’s loved one.”

But Kyriopoulos said Horrocks Engineers conducted a traffic study to address traffic-safety concerns. Although the study showed there will be a traffic impact, “the increase is within normal levels of similar accesses along the highway.”

But residents aren’t convinced.

Resident Katie Christensen urged the commission not to approve the project unless a traffic light is installed at the 500 North entrance to the truck stop.

See previous story: Wellsville residents opposed to proposed truck stop on Hwy. 89/91

“If this project moves forward at the proposed intersection without a signal, and there is serious injury or even death as a result, who among you could go to the aggrieved and say, ‘I did all that I could to prevent this tragedy, I’m so sorry for this loss?’ The stakes are high,” she said.

Christensen read from Wellsville City Ordinance 11-1-3, section G, which states, “To provide the most beneficial relationship between the uses of land and buildings and the circulation of traffic throughout the city, having particular regard to the avoidance of congestion in the streets and highways….”

Christensen said approving the truck stop without a traffic light at the proposed intersection would be contrary to Wellsville’s city ordinances.

But Commissioner Paul Egbert said Utah Department of Transportation won’t allow a traffic light installed on 500 North because it’s closer than one mile from the existing light on Main Street.

File photo

File photo

“And the traffic volume isn’t even close to constitute a traffic signal there,” Egbert said.

With no traffic light at 500 North, residents are concerned truck drivers will instead take a residential road—900 East—to access the truck stop.

Rustin Walker, who lives on the corner of 900 East and Main Street, is especially concerned. He’s worked in the trucking industry and says he knows the tendencies of truck drivers.

“With my experience as a truck driver, drivers will take the easiest and safest path to their destination,” Walker said. “A southbound driver will attempt to make a left turn onto 500 North only once when they will realize there is a much safer and better way. The better way will be to use the light on Main Street and then proceed down 900 East—a 25-mile-per-hour residential street.”

Walker predicts trucks will use 900 East as a departing road as well. This will put trucks traveling in both directions on a narrow residential road.

“While the plan is to construct 500 North on the east side of 89/91 as the entrance, you cannot dictate that drivers can only use that entrance and exit,” he said. “Drivers will take the path of least resistance, which is unlikely to be 500 North.”

But despite the opposition to the truck stop, some residents see it as a positive thing. Bryant White said even though he’s seen a lot of accidents on Highway 89/91, he still supports the truck stop.

“We have a resident who owns a commercial property, and that’s not always the case,” White said. “You don’t always have the benefit of having someone who’s got a vested interest because he lives in the community, in developing the commercial space. It could be somebody from California or from New York. I would point out the virtue in that, that the Kyripoulos’ have a strong interest in preserving Wellsville.”

White said the truck stop is a good zoning move, and urged the commission to approve the project. “I think Wellsville ought to embrace the opportunity to work with somebody who’s so anxious to work with the community to enhance it and enrich it.”

Shellece Gunnell said she came to the meeting to find out why the truck stop hadn’t been approved yet. “I’m surprised to hear so much opposition, honestly,” she said. “Everyone I’ve talked to wants it in.”

Despite the 22 conditions he must fulfill, Kyriopoulos says he hopes to start construction as soon as possible. He said the truck stop, which will be called “Sardinz” will be a “great asset to our community.” He said it will provide 50 to 70 jobs, generate sales and property tax revenue, and give Wellsville much-needed services.

“We’re bringing in the best kind of dollars,” he said. “Rather than passing money around to each other, we’re bringing money from outside the community to inside the community.”


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