By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Oliver Gross of Grand Island opposes the proposed Love's Travel Stop not because he's one of those NIMBY people, who say "Not In My Back Yard" to everything.
"It's not just 'Not in My Back Yard,'" he explained. "It's literally in my back yard."
Gross and his family live on Whitehaven Road next to the I-190 off ramp where Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores has proposed a new truck stop plaza. Love's made an informal presentation to the Grand Island Planning Board last Monday on their project.
Gross said his big yellow house is "right in the middle" of the proposed site.
"It's hard to describe exactly how furious I am about it," he told the Dispatch this week. "It's an assault on me and my family. It's so callous and so insensitive of them. It's just outrageous."
"They come here, they see a house and they want to make it unlivable. And probably not because they hate us specifically," Gross said. "They nothing us. They don't care about us at all. They just want what they want and they don't care what happens to the people around them. ... We're still clearly and tremendously impacted by something like that."
Rick Shuffield, vice president of real estate and development for Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores, said at the meeting of the Grand Island Planning Board last week that the property eyed for the proposed truck stop is appropriately zoned for such a development. Shuffield said, "It's an allowed use by zoning. That's an industrial area. To me it makes a lot of sense."
It doesn't make sense to Gross.
"That's not accurate at all," he said. "All you've got to do is walk over here and see that it's a mixed-use area. You still have farms, you still have houses, you have small businesses. You don't have these giant industrial things. You have a couple commercial buildings that are largely recessed and have all sorts of tree coverings."
"It is not a giant brownfield where you can just set up a giant truck stop like that."
Friday, the Grand Island Town Board voted 4-0 for a local law that would define a travel plaza "with specificity. This type of land use is not permitted within our community," Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray said. The proposed local law was referred to the Planning Board and will come up at the next Town Board meeting where the board could set a public hearing on the matter.
Gross said he plans to attend future meetings of the Planning Board when Love's will submit its proposals, but he said he also plans to take his message beyond his immediate neighborhood.
"I'm going to be at every one and I'm going to go door to door throughout the entire Island and introduce myself and my family to everybody here and see if we can get help," he said.
"This is not something than anybody wants, and rightfully so," he said. "This is not the neighborhood for that. And it's not that everybody is against truckers. We understand that these facilities are necessary, but to put it in a mixed-use neighborhood right on top of somebody's house is outrageous."