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7/16/2013 10:37:00 AM
Sign of the times: Love's likely to build travel stop in Williams
Williams City Council approves sign variance, pending other permit approval Love's could begin building in 2014
Love's Travel Stop plans to open a location at the Grand Canyon Blvd. exit off I-40 in Williams.
Love's Travel Stop plans to open a location at the Grand Canyon Blvd. exit off I-40 in Williams.

Clara Beard
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

Local residents and the Williams City Council gave a visible "sign" July 11 that they are all for a Love's Travel Stop coming to Williams.

After a public hearing that saw every resident who spoke in support of the business, Williams City Council members unanimously approved a variance for the second largest travel stop in the country to erect a large free-standing sign advertising Love's and displaying current gas prices, north of I-40 near the RV Park and Quality Inn.

Kym VanDyke, Love's Travel Stop representative, said if officials approve all other permits, Love's hopes to start construction by mid-2014.

Love's asked for the variance so truckers can easily see the sign, have enough time to maneuver on the interstate and know where to stop safely.

Flagstaff-based traffic engineer Keith Manley, who advises companies and agencies like the Arizona Department of Transportation, told council members that a signage ordinance can't address the varying issues that come with signs.

"Safety trumps it all," Manley said. "No one can possibly write an ordinance that includes all different possibilities. I would suggest the sign be as big and as flashy as signs can be, forgetting everything else, just for public safety."

Williams has an ordinance in place stating the maximum height for a freestanding sign should not exceed 60 feet with a maximum size of 300 square feet. A typical Love's high-rise sign is more than 1,000 square feet, but the Oklahoma-based travel stop is reducing the size to 558 square feet to accommodate the city's ordinance.

In the past, the Williams City Council has granted sign variances for Olson's Grain, Best Western Motel, McDonald's, Chevron and Holiday Inn. The Mobil Station has three freestanding signs on site with only one legal street frontage sign.

Love's lawyer Tony Cullum said Williams had a need for a truck stop 20 years ago, and it still has a need today.

"Consistently, the highest price for gasoline in the state of Arizona is in Williams, Arizona," said Cullum during the Williams City Council's public hearing July 11. He added that having a Love's would draw more visitors into the downtown area, not just to the truck stop.

Tevis Reich, a Flagstaff lawyer representing local gas station owner Chuck Sandoval, said that Love's property is not unique to any other property in town.

"It has the same characteristics, it can be built and utilized for the same commercial purposes as any other commercial property," Reich said. "There's not a safety concern here, and I'll tell you why, because it can be developed and built just like any other piece of property."

Reich went on to say that truckers know where they want to stop before they even start on their journey, so Love's safety argument isn't plausible.

"It's not a safety issue," Reich said. "Also, the Arizona Drivers License Manual talks about proper procedures of driving on the freeway. And under entering and exiting the highway, it says, 'if you miss your exit, do not stop. Never back up on the highway. Go to the next exit and turn around...' you don't make split second decisions when you're driving 60-70 miles per hour in a 80,000 pound rig."

A handful of residents took the opportunity to voice their frustrations about local gas prices, and spoke in support of a Love's coming to Williams. Ruth Sanzari commented that both businesses and residents would benefit from having a Love's Travel Stop.

"Many of our local residents, like myself, go to Bellemont or Flagstaff to buy fuel," Sanzari said to council members. "If the prices in town were more reasonable at the stations, they would have more local business. You may think it will hurt local business...but you should think about what's best for Williams, not for a few businesses getting hurt, when there could be good for all the businesses. Please don't pass up a positive thing."

Related Stories:
• Judge dismisses Love's Travel Stop lawsuit

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, August 2, 2013
Article comment by: this town is hopeless

Wow, they won't publish my comment that even references a business (that happens to be a large advertiser) in a general way. Nice one, WGCN.

For those saying "they won't be any cheaper anyway", this place will be competing for gas with Pilot in Bellemont and other truck stops along I-40, NOT any of the current stations in town. The side effect though is that the stations in town are all currently 40 to 70 cents (or more) a gallon more expensive than the truck stops, so by extension, Love's WILL be the cheapest gas in this town. They will also add a place for local residents to get a gallon of milk after 10pm, since our local grocery store cut their hours several years ago and never extended them back in the summer.

As for the horrendous rumors going around this town about "what truck stops bring to town", I have traveled a lot over the last couple years, and made many, many stops at truck stops by all of the large companies (Love's, Flying J, Pilot, Petro, TravelAmerica). The number of times I was solicited by a prostitute? ZERO. The number of times I was approached by drug dealers? ZERO! I did, however, see lots of families stopping to grab drinks, snacks, stretch their legs, etc. Perhaps the City can partner with Love's and have some sort of "exhibit" or something about Williams in there, so that people who stop in get to know a little about our town, and just maybe, decide to venture under the Interstate and come into town.

Another thing troubling recently is the attitude people have about new stuff coming into town. The zipline has been very, very popular with the younger generation of visitors to Williams. This truck stop will also get a LOT of business off the Interstate, instead of scaring everyone away. Usage at the golf course is reportedly much higher. More importantly, all of these things are increasing the sales tax dollars for our town. Everyone complains about the pool not being open, streets being rough, etc., but every time anything gets brought up that would increase sales tax revenues and give the City more money to spend, everyone comes out of the woodwork opposing them for completely silly reasons. Come on, Williams, your stubbornness will be the death of this town!

Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2013
Article comment by: Elmer Sefenhagen

Williams is off the highway. Trucks need a place to go where they can refresh, fill up with food and fuel. They can go around Main Street and bypass the tourist attractions all together. Large trucks should not be allowed to go down Main Street.

Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Article comment by: gas buyer tooexpensive

the price of gas in Williams is outrageous! I never go to Williams for my gas! I will never support rip off people!!

Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Article comment by: yeah sure Ruth

There is absolutely no guarentee of LOWER GAS PRICES. You guys crack me up.

Yes Sam, having a truck stop is soooooooo wonderful!!!

Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Article comment by: Sam Toscano

This is so wonderful! Hopefully the other gas stations will have a sense of completion and lower their prices. Williams needs tourists to return, not spread the word how over priced it was.

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