Truck stop developers to appeal rejection by County Commission

August 10, 2018

Developers of a would-be Pilot Flying J truck stop south of city limits say they intend to appeal the Santa Fe County Commission’s decision in May to reject their plan for a 10-acre travel center at the N.M. 14 exit of Interstate 25.

An attorney for a local developer and Tennessee-based Pilot Flying J filed a notice of appeal this week in the state District Court in Santa Fe. The document did not outline their grounds for challenging the commissioners’ decision.

The maneuver resurrects an intensely contentious proposal that drew strident opposition from nearby residents and local elected officials who denounced what they said would be the negative environmental and aesthetic impacts of a truck stop near their homes and the so-called southern gateway to Santa Fe.

After almost six hours of public testimony against the proposal during a hearing that drew hundreds of people to the Santa Fe High School gymnasium, commissioners voted 4-1 to reject the truck stop.

Commissioners approved the developers’ larger conceptual plan for the 26-acre parcel — which includes proposed hotels, fast-food restaurants and other “light industrial” uses — but rejected the truck stop “use,” finding a truck stop as envisioned by developers was not permitted in the Community College District Economic Center and would be “inconsistent” with the county’s growth management plan.

Commissioner Robert Anaya was the lone vote against the proposal’s rejection, saying the trucking industry and truckers in general had been unfairly maligned by local opponents.

Developers argued in vain that their proposal met the county’s land-use code criteria and would be an economic boost to the area.

County officials recognized the fight might eventually continue in court. Asked at the time whether he expected an appeal of the commissioners’ vote, County Attorney Bruce Frederick said, “I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Karl Sommer, the Santa Fe attorney representing the truck stop applicants, did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

Deputy County Manager Tony Flores said the county would not comment on pending litigation.

The travel center as proposed would include a fueling station, 75 parking spaces for trucks, 66 spaces for automobiles, showers and a convenience store with three fast-food restaurants.

Pilot Flying J calls itself the nation’s largest operator of travel centers. There are Pilot Flying J truck stops and travel centers of varying size in Albuquerque, Clovis, Fort Wingate, Las Cruces, Moriarty, Santa Rosa and Tucumcari.

The case has been assigned to District Judge Francis J. Mathew.

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