Love’s Travel Stops is being silent on its plans to build a truck-stop complex off of Interstate 90 next to Ramsay, declining to give any updates on a construction start time or how it's meeting regulatory hurdles.
But Love’s apparently has a ways to go in getting all necessary OKs for the truck stop from state transportation and environmental agencies.
Lori Casey, Butte-Silver Bow’s planning director, says she was told by Love’s architect — HFA, based in Bentonville, Arkansas — that construction on the site 7 miles west of Butte was to begin in April.
Love’s, through HFA, gave county officials reams of details and drawings about its planned complex last year, which included a large convenience store, a casino, an Arby’s restaurant, a tire shop and parking for at least 110 tractor trailers.
Casey said businesses usually don’t submit such extensive plans unless they are very serious about locating in the county, but that doesn’t always mean they follow through. Sportsman’s Warehouse once presented such plans, she said, but did not locate in Butte.
Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, an Oklahoma City-based corporation with more than 480 truck stops and stores in 41 states, would not give The Montana Standard any update about its plans or progress on the regulatory front.
“Unfortunately, we do not have anything to share at this time,” company spokeswoman Tara Carr wrote in an email Monday.
Despite its extensive reach nationally, Love’s has only one truck stop in Montana so far. That’s off of I-90 in Hardin, 48 miles east of Billings.
Many Ramsay residents oppose the truck stop, saying it will bring crime, noise and pollution to their quaint, quiet community of about 40 houses. But their stabs at blocking it, including an attempt to impose emergency zoning regulations, have failed so far.
Jim Ayres, who has helped lead opposition efforts, said Monday that he hasn’t heard of any updates, either.
State regulators did provide updates on what Love’s has done and still needs to do in order to build and operate the truck stop.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality said Friday that Love’s does have an active stormwater construction permit that allows general construction activities.
But the DEQ is currently reviewing the company’s engineering plans for a wastewater facility and has requested additional technical information.
Last spring, Love’s submitted an initial application for underground storage tanks but they have not provided additional information to complete the permitting process. That means they do not yet have an underground storage tank permit from DEQ, the agency said.
According to Love’s own plans, some road work will be needed on Miles Crossing, the I-90 frontage road that becomes Nissler Road. But there might be more work involved.
The Montana Department of Transportation says it is currently waiting for Love’s consultant to provide plans and designs for agency review. They include a traffic control plan, construction plans for the I-90 ramp modifications and pavement design information for the ramps and work on Nissler Road.
Love’s first announced plans for the truck stop in January 2017, saying it would include a 9,000-square-foot store with space for two food franchises, a 9,000-square-foot tire center and 137 parking spaces for tractor trailers.
Love’s said it would mean 60 to 80 jobs ranging from part-time to a handful of managerial positions, with all employees starting above minimum wage and getting benefits.
According to the detailed plans submitted to the county, the complex would be built just east of Ramsay with vehicles entering off of the Miles Crossing frontage road.
A row of trees and shrubs would be lined up next to and just east of Palmer Street — the north-south street into Ramsay — and there would be some open space between it and the complex.
The main building would include the convenience store, casino and Arby’s and the tire shop would be on the southeast corner of the property. Space just north of that building includes parking for cars.
Parking for semis would line the west, south and east ends of the complex, and according to the drawing, there would be at least 110 spaces for them. There would be seven fueling stations for cars and 10 for semis.
The complex would be surrounded by areas of seeded grasses or sod and the main building would include laundry facilities for truckers, among other things.