Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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County to proceed with Dunnigan truck stop plan; final vote expected early next year

WOODLAND — Following a lengthy public hearing Tuesday, Yolo County supervisors voted 3-2 to have county staff begin drawing up an agreement that would pave the way for a 19-acre truck stop to be located in the town of Dunnigan at the intersection of Interstate 5 and County Road 6.

But whether the proposed Love’s Travel Center will actually become a reality remains to be seen, with two supervisors saying they likely will support the plan, two expressing opposition and Supervisor Don Saylor of Davis the possible swing vote when the matter is heard again in January.

“I’m not sure where my vote will fall,” Saylor said Tuesday. ”I’m inclined to support a truck stop in this area. … It makes good sense to put this here and it will bring some 50 jobs. But the verdict is still out for me.”

At issue is a truck stop that would include two fast-food restaurants, a convenience market, a tire-installation facility, 24 fuel pumps and 120 parking spaces for trucks. In addition to employing 25 to 50 people, the center would generate an estimated $427,000 annually in county revenue.

The promise of tax revenue to help fund county programs has drawn the support of Supervisor Jim Provenza of Davis, who was the only supervisor to vote in favor of the truck stop when the plan originally came before the board in March. His colleagues on the board sided with Dunnigan residents who oppose the project.

Following the March meeting, Provenza and Supervisor Mike McGowan of West Sacramento worked with county staff to try to find a solution that would bring Love’s to Yolo County, including looking at potential sites on County Road 8 — a location Dunnigan residents support. But Love’s representatives were adamant that the company was interested only in the County Road 6 location and, failing that, would focus on a Colusa County location instead.

On Tuesday, the original proposal returned to the board for reconsideration and, once again, dozens of Dunnigan residents turned out to plead with supervisors not to approve the project.

County Road 6, residents said, is the gateway to Dunnigan — what many called the town’s “Main Street” — and is intended for community development, including an elementary school, grocery store and medical offices. Putting a truck stop there, opponents said, would permanently change their small community of 1,500 people and Dunnigan’s future plans.

“We don’t need fast-food and convenience stores,” resident Wilma Gullatt told supervisors. “We already have that. We need a school and grocery store. I’m asking you not to be swayed by the $427,000.”

Also weighing in against the plan were two representatives of the Pierce Joint Unified School District.

Noting that the truck stop would be built close to the planned elementary school, Pierce Superintendent Ernest Sopp said, “This is what students will see when they leave the classroom.”

“Before you make your decision,” he told supervisors, “go to Dunnigan. If your child lived in Dunnigan, what would you want for them? What kind of atmosphere … do you want to create for the children of Dunnigan? There is more at stake here than just profits. This is about building a community.”

Duffy Baily, also representing the school district, expressed concerns about the truck stop’s planned above-ground fuel storage tanks as well as the transient nature of many truck stop customers being in such close proximity to children heading to school and back.

As they did in March, nearly all of the two dozen people who spoke out Tuesday against the County Road 6 site said they actually supported bringing a Love’s Travel Center to Dunnigan, provided it’s built at County Road 8.

Now, county staff will work with Love’s to draw up a development agreement for the County Road 6 site including a long list of conditions for approval. McGowan also requested that staff hold a community meeting in Dunnigan to better determine what negative impacts the truck stop might bring and how they can be mitigated.

“If we can build a truck stop on County Road 6 and we can do it in a way that doesn’t undermine your fundamental values,” he told Dunnigan residents, “I would probably be supportive of that.”

Supervisors Duane Chamberlain and Matt Rexroad both voiced their continued opposition to the project.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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