September 18, 2015 by Laura Bacon
A full service truck stop including gas and diesel services, a convenience store with fast food, a 24/7 cafe, 30-room hotel and more was proposed for the south edge of Audubon during the Audubon City Council meeting on Monday. Officials with the project have requested that the city annex the property in order to provide additional revenue for the city and water and sewer services for the truck stop.
John Anderson, one of the company's managers, said the truck stop "is a start up company whose management perceived a growing demand for agricultural and commercial vehicle services within the Audubon County area."
"Our goal," he said, "would be to provide competitive fuel prices against major city markets in the region and serving quality food and services on a 24/7 basis."
The property will be located just outside of the Audubon city limits along Highway 71.
"After consideration of multiple locations," Anderson said the truck stop "will be located on 10 acres of bottom land, at 2079 US Highway 71 in Audubon."
The truck stop would be located where the DR & KW Transtor, Inc. building is, along with a cornfield to the north of it. The project managers are Anderson and Brian Handlos.
"The truck stop is intended to be a major truck stop for the Audubon County area to service the agricultural and commercial traffic," Anderson said.
He told the council about the proposed business: "It will consist of a full service convenience store with fast food, multiple gas and diesel islands, a cafe that will serve breakfast 24/7 along with daily home cooked meal specials, a 30 room motel, a multiple bay truck trailer wash center, an RV dump station, certified scales and generous truck parking for short and long term needs."
In addition, Anderson said, "We will also have amenities for trucking customers." He also said officials had "researched into getting a Starbucks in the store as well."
They hope to employ 50-plus in its start up and plans to use local contractors and vendors and will purchase as much locally, as possible.
Anderson said he saw the opportunity for jobs for a number of employees, and talked about approximately 70 jobs being lost to the area when another Audubon company closed its doors. "I would like to see those people return to the community," he said.
They hope to break ground by Oct.1 and be up and running by this time next year.
"We are asking city council to take part, by annexing the property into the city limits
thus providing additional revenues for the city, and providing access to city water and sewer (for the truck stop)," he said.
Council members said they thought the project was a good thing, and Dave Wiederstein, Audubon City Attorney, said the council could look at annexation and could consider economic development options like a TIF district for the area.
One concern expressed was whether the property was contiguous with other properties in the city limits, which was required for annexation.
They also discussed the amount of water that would be needed, and what size water main might be needed.
Audubon City Clerk Joe Foran said bringing water and sewer service out to the property could cost the city "just shy of $700,000." That cost could add to questions about the project, as "the city would mostly likely have to bond for the sewer and water," he added.
"The key thing, now, is being contiguous to city limits," Council member Bob Jacobsen said.
Anderson said the company was already doing the layout and are in talks with the Iowa Department of Transportation with regards to entrances.
The new owners take possession of the property on Oct. 15, but are trying to expedite that process in hopes of starting construction sooner.
When asked what would happen if the property couldn't be annexed, Anderson said the company had considered use of a well and septic system.
During the discussion, Jacobsen said, despite questions, "I'm not trying to shut this project down, I want it to go."
Mayor Sam Kauffman supported the project as well, "You are talking 50 jobs," he said.
Wiederstein said, "I think we're willing to work on (the project), but it's not going to fit your time line." He said getting everything from the annexation to setting up a TIF district could take months. "(If) we annex, are we going to meet any resistance? If we do, is it worth pursuing in the courts and then there is the cost to the city of pursing it in the courts? A lot of it depends on if it's a voluntary (annexation) or not."
Wiederstein said that he would look into all legal aspects regarding the TIF and annexation process.
Courtesy of Jill Christensen, Audubon County Advocate Journal, 9/18/15.