The City of Otsego announced this week that Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, a proprietor of dozens of truck stops nationally, has pulled its purchase agreement for land along County Road 137 and Interstate 94, near the Albertville and Otsego border.
“City staff has been informed by the property owner that Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores has cancelled their purchase agreement for the property at the Northeast Quadrant of I-94 and CR 137,” the notice states on the city’s website.
That, most likely, brings the issue to a close, after hundreds of residents voiced concern over the proposed truck stop construction on the north side of the county road, about a quarter of a mile from the westbound lanes of I-94.
More than 1,200 interested area residents have signed up for a “Maciver Ave Neighbors Against Otsego Truck Stop,” group on Facebook, banding together the neighborhoods of Sunray Farms, Martin Farms, Heritage Estates and more along the northeastern edge of Albertville, a stone’s throw from Interstate 94.
The issue moved forward throughout the early part of 2017. The developer had submitted a traffic study to Wright County, and a preliminary plan is also available for view on the City of Otsego website. Yet, to date, no official plan had been submitted to the City of Otsego. A series of residents offered their take on the proposal late last year.
“This is a bad idea, all the way around,” one resident said. “For traffic. For the people who live in the area. For the businesses that have already established some of the same services. It’s just a bad idea.”
“I haven’t heard of [any support for the truck stop],” said Jamy Hanson, a resident in the area and one of the administrators of the Facebook page, in a recent issue of the Elk River Star News. “There’s no support out there for this.”
Granted, it wouldn’t be local residents who would comprise Love’s target audience. Instead, it would have been the 14,000 or so trucks per day that utilize westbound Interstate 94 as they head out of the metropolitan area – or through it. And, with both St. Michael and Otsego targeting the County 137 and Naber Avenue Northeast intersection (north of I-94) as an industrial/commercial area when and if an overpass is placed at I-94 and Naber, trucks servicing those sites would be future Love’s customers.
But, residents stated, the impact to both living conditions and the environment should be considered. School Lake, just off of County 137 and bordered by the County Highway 19 off-ramp, is home to a pair of nesting bald eagles. And idling trucks, particularly on winter nights, are bad news for homes in the area who would be exposed to diesel fumes.
The residents spelled out that and these other points in a group letter to the City of Otsego:
1) Increased traffic levels will overwhelm an already overcrowded road system as evidenced by the traffic study performed. The traffic study shows an 80% increase in volume and 3x increase in delays.
2) Noise levels generated from idling trucks will exceed MPCA allowed daytime and nighttime regulations for residential neighbors. Sound studies show 1 idling truck can exceed MPCA regulations up to 1600 feet from the source.
3) Air pollution generated from idling diesel engines will exceed EPA regulations for residential neighbors. Studies show truck stops generate 2X highway levels of PM2.5, 10X increase in nano-particles, and 3X mass emissions.
4) Crime studies of truck stops in our state and across the nation show dramatic increases in and around those locations. Increased crime means more tax expense paid by citizens for additional Wright County Sheriff patrols not to mention the impact on safety and wellbeing of our children that get on the school bus directly across from it.
5) The location of this proposed development and proximity to residential Otsego citizens is not in accordance to your planning and zoning ordinance for this property and is not consistent with all of the other truck stop locations in our region. We have over 104 homes within a ¼ mile and the next closest in density is Sauk Center with 4 homes.
6) Tax Revenue generated from a 100+ stall parking lot will be far less than other more suitable development opportunities. Revenue of area retail is 30%-240% greater than area truck stops and gas stations on a per acre tax basis.