Only about 20 of the 60 protestors were allowed into the meeting room inside Herculaneum City Hall during the Sept. 19 meeting.

Only about 20 of the 60 protestors were allowed into the meeting room inside Herculaneum City Hall during the Sept. 19 meeting.

The Love’s Travel Stops and Country stores company is working toward building a truck stop in Herculaneum, but not everyone in the city is putting out a welcome mat.

Herculaneum officials said a Love’s Travel Stops representative recently visited them to talk about plans to construct a Love’s gas station, convenience store and truck stop on 28 acres west of I-55 and north of the roundabout at McNutt Street and Providence Way.

As of Monday, Sept. 19, however, the company had not applied for any permits, Herculaneum officials said at that night’s Herculaneum Board of Aldermen meeting.

Months-old rumors about the Love’s project planned for the city’s third ward have spurred residents from the nearby Providence subdivision to start an online petition calling for the city to block the company from building a Love’s facility at the site.

The “Keep Love’s away from our community” petition is on the change.org website, and as of Tuesday morning, Sept. 20, more than 800 people had signed it.

A group of at least 60 people from the Providence subdivision attended the Sept. 19 Board of Aldermen meeting to protest the project, but only about a third of them were allowed into the City Hall board room due to occupancy regulations.

“We live in Providence,” Scott Siegel said prior to the meeting. “We’re not against a truck stop going in in Herculaneum. We’re against it going in at the entrance of our subdivision.”

Another Providence subdivision resident, Eva Roesh, said the McNutt Street-Providence Way roundabout causes enough traffic problems without a Love’s Truck Stop adding more traffic at the subdivision’s entrance.

“The roundabout will be more dangerous,” she said.

City Administrator Jim Kasten spoke to the crowd outside the building before the meeting and told them that Herculaneum will hold a large-scale public meeting with a Love’s spokesperson in attendance to share information about the project and get feedback.

He said the meeting will be held at a Dunklin R-5 school to accommodate more people, but it could be months away.

Kasten also told those assembled for the meeting that five members of the group would be allowed to speak during the citizens comments section.

Roesh, who was one of those speakers, said she feared the truck stop would breed crime and she feared for the safety of her young daughter if the facility were built. She also brought up the roundabout to the aldermen.

Another Providence subdivision resident, Kathy O’Connor, said she is a teacher and fears the Love’s center would be a danger to young people, contending that sex trafficking is common at truck stops. A number of people in the crowd applauded her statement.

Israel Clayton, who also lives in the subdivision, questioned if the benefits of the proposed truck stop outweigh the drawbacks.

Clayton, who said he is a truck driver, also said he is concerned about crime the truck stop could bring to the area.

“Is the revenue worth what the people are against?” he asked.

Kasten told the crowd that board members do not respond to public comments and questions at meetings about issues not on the agenda, adding that the board would consider requests for items to be placed on future agendas.

After the meeting’s regular session, Kasten again spoke with the crowd outside the building and answered several questions. He said the site of the proposed Love’s facility is zoned C-1 commercial, meaning that it already has the zoning required for the area.

“It (the proposed truck stop) is permitted under C-1,” he said.

However, Kasten said the project would need a special-use permit to operate 24 hours a day and the request would need to go through the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and ultimately be approved by the Board of Aldermen.

Kasten also told the crowd that the Missouri Department of Transportation plans to widen I-55 and make other improvements along the interstate from Pevely to Festus in the next few years , which possibly could lead Love’s officials to delay their project.

Love’s facilities offer “gasoline, diesel fuel, fresh coffee, restaurant offerings and more,” according to the company website.