On May 9th, representatives of the Pilot/Flying J Corporation gave a presentation on a new proposal to build a Travel Center at the intersection of Rancho Viejo Blvd and NM-14. The meeting was not well publicized and about 60 people from the area attended the meeting. Please see The New Mexican article on May 10 for more details. The following are my personal notes from the meeting and may contain inaccuracies and omissions – use at your own risk. My intent is solely to inform residents that this project proposal is underway.
- Mr. Siebert – Made comment about how a Master Plan becomes invalid after 5 years if development doesn’t take place. Several times during the meeting, they made the point that the area is zoned for this time of development. “Conditional use” requires hearing officer, then planning commission (July?), then County Commissioners (Sep?).
- According to Siebert, per the Santa Fe County Land Development Code, all residents within 500 ft. must be notified by mail (there are a few in the Turquoise Trail Business Park). The SLDC doesn’t require notification signage, but they were “kind enough” to put up a small sign in RV. They thought the meeting was well attended.
- Ross Schaver, Pilot’s Project Engineer treated us to a presentation of how wonderful Pilot is, how they have 600 locations, how wonderful the Haslam family is, and how they also own several fast food chains. They want to create jobs for everyone and increase commercial property values. He claimed that extending the sewer line would accomplish this.
- Pilot is currently building 20 stores per year. They are the largest diesel supplier in the US and and the largest hauler of supplies for the fracking industry. They also own a construction company.
- The “Rancho Viejo Partners” were “approached” by Pilot and the land is now under contract. The parcel is 26 acres split into 3 lots – the travel center will be on a 10 acre site immediately across from Rancho Viejo Blvd on highway 14. There will be one entrance in and out, and the center will include a Wendy’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. (The 2 lots will probably be for hotel/retail, like most Pilot Centers.) The project is currently at the “proposal” stage and will go to county hearing officer, Nancy Long, soon.
- The site has perfect infrastructure including power and natural gas. The sewage line may run to a lift station at Gruda Vet Clinic, or the prison system. Water will be County (if they are willing). Doing a “willing and able letter” to County.
- Detention pond will contain all fuel spills, which Pilot will monitor to make sure they comply with all state and county codes. Roof runoff will go to culvert. (When challenged by the audience, Shaver challenged us to do our own testing, because Pilot NEVER pollutes any areas it operates in.)
- Pilot’s traffic engineer is doing study now. The Center will contain 70 semi stalls and they anticipate 300 semi’s per day. They say this is small for them and that there should be no traffic congestion.
- Lighting: all Cree. (They said this as if that will be sufficient to meet codes and not violate night sky restrictions.)
Questions/comments from audience:
- A (female) truck driver in the audience said all 70 stalls will be idling and very noisy. Shaver claims that company testing shows decibels will be low. He went on to say that newer rigs have sound mitigating equipment and ignored her remaining point about older trucks.
- How many jobs? 80-90 jobs. 3 Corporate Managers who will make 6 figures. Everyone else will be local talent. Half will be part time and all will make better than minimum wage.
- The Center will create a $2-3M tax base – gross receipts taxes will take care of roads.
- RV only has 2 exits. How will this enhance home values and how will Pilot alleviate traffic problems? Shaver thinks extended sewer will increase commercial property values. He did not answer how this will increase residential property values.
- How will they control pollution? They have secondary tanks to catch fuel leaks. This goes to the detention pond.
- A homeowner said she can smell the coffee and donuts from thd BLM offices. How will Pilot control diesel smells? Shaver’s answer: “I hope you’ll smell the Wendy’s and Dunkin Donuts instead.”
- A former law enforcement officer from the Arizona City area said he and other cops stopped meeting at the the Flying J on I-10 because it became a bottleneck that they couldn’t get out of and it was too noisy for meetings. He said he didn’t move to RV to go through the same thing that AZ City residents are dealing with.
- Emergency Evac plan? Shaver totally denied noise and traffic concerns. Pilot only builds nice, safe facilities that comply with all state and local regulations.
- What about road abuse and damage – who will repair NM-14 and surrounding roads? Ross says there won’t be any and that Pilot follow all state regs re: axle loading.
- How much will taxes increase as a result of increased policing? Shaver says he has a letter from a police chief saying how wonderful Pilot Centers are. Comments about crime at truck stops are untrue generalizations. Most truck drivers are like the nice lady in the audience (she’d left) and just want to make an honest living. A resident objected saying she researched crime stats on Travel Centers and that Shaver’s statement was uninformed.
- Where else did you consider? Pilot’s real estate group looked for 2 years until they found this spot. They have plans for 3-5 more from here to Denver.
- Next Step? Planning Officer will review proposal to see whether it meets codes, etc., then on to County Planning Commission.
If you would like to voice your opinion to our County Commissioner, Ed Moreno, he can be reached at 505-986-6210 or email@example.com.