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Grand Island reiterates opposition to truck stop

It isn't just town officials and residents who don't like the idea of a truck stop on Grand Island.

It's also at least one truck driver.

"As soon as I heard about it I was going to protest immediately," said Michael Jablon, who drove a car hauler for 30 years.

Jablon was one of dozens of residents who filled the Town Board meeting Monday to again protest a proposal for a Love's Travel Plaza/truck stop on a 21-acre site, located west of the I-190 off of Whitehaven Road. They held a public hearing on a proposed local law that would prohibit truck stops on Grand Island.

"We're an area of green space. We've got Beaver Island, Buckhorn State Park, the amusement park (Fantasy Island) and all of a sudden we are throwing a truck stop into all that. It doesn't make any sense," Jablon said after the meeting.

The board must wait nine days after the public hearing before voting on the proposed law, but Supervisor Nathan D. McMurray said the board intends to approve it at its next meeting on April 2. The Planning Board also recommended passing a local law to prohibit truck stops.

McMurray said the law is not about Love's Travel Plaza, which is only a concept plan at this point, but rather a proactive change in zoning.

He said he feels confident that the law stands on strong legal ground.

"It's not like they have a shovel in the ground," said McMurray. "We are jumping out ahead of it because we don't have this type of zoning law on the books."

Town Attorney Peter C. Godfrey agreed.

"The town is confident that the law as drafted is sensible and lawful," he said. "It's not written with respect to this specific project; it's a law of general application which governs a certain type of use."

"We've put a lot of time into conservation, with several major preservation projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars to protect and preserve green space on Grand Island," said McMurray. "There's really no space (for truck stops) on Grand Island and that's why we wrote this law.

Rick Shuffield, vice president of real estate and development for Love's, an Oklahoma-based company, met with the Planning Board on Feb. 12 to discuss the concept and nearly 200 residents sat and listened, all wearing buttons that said "No Love's."

200 say no to a truck stop on Grand Island, without saying a word

Shuffield said the 24-hour truck stop could bring $1.5 million in revenue to the town in sales in property tax annually and add 45 to 60 full-time positions. He said Love's has 450 locations in 41 states.

"Not in my backyard. I understand that," said Shuffield last month after the Planning Board meeting, "But if you want a road to be safe you have to have a place for truckers to stop."

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