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LOVE'S

This image from the Decatur City Council packet shows the proposed location of a new Love's Travel Stop & Country Store. 

DECATUR — A new Love's Travel Stop & Country Store could be built off Illinois 121 near Interstate 72 if the Decatur City Council approves an agreement with the Oklahoma-based chain on Monday. 

In exchange, the city would use up to $750,000 collected from the local motor fuel tax to reconstruct County Fair Drive, which would be connected to the truck stop, according to documents provided to the council by city staff. 

If approved, Love's will construct an 18,000-square foot full-service truck stop and restaurant space at the proposed site. The city memo said the company will also pay to construct $1.2 million in water and sewer infrastructure to serve the area. 

The cost for the road work is estimated at $685,965, with a possible contingency expenses that could take the cost to $754,561. The company would repay the money to the city if Love's isn't built there by May 2019. 

In the memo, city staff members said they believed the development could lead to additional sales, food and beverage tax money for the city. 

City Manager Tim Gleason on Thursday could not say how many jobs the new travel center would create if approved, but said its construction could lead to many other business opportunities for Decatur. 

"It gives us a chance to start developing that west part of town," he said. 

The local motor fuel tax, 5 cents a gallon on unleaded fuel and 1 cent per gallon on diesel sold within the city limits, was passed by the city council in February 2016.

The tax, which has a 10-year sunset provision, was generally meant to help pay for repairs to aging Decatur streets, often in neighborhoods that wouldn't be reached with work from state motor fuel tax proceeds, officials have said. The money also could be used if the road work made a new development project possible, as is the case with Love's, city staff said in the documents. 

Staff also recommended that council members approve additional items within the agreement to allow for both the travel center construction and for the possibility of future development in the area. They include: 

  • An ordinance authorizing a sanitary sewer lift station easement and access agreement
  • A resolution authorizing a city rider that requires traffic signals to be installed at the intersection if traffic warrants them
  • Resolutions authorizing temporary construction easements to reconstruct and expand County Fair Drive

Love's, founded in 1964, has more than 450 locations in 41 states. Gleason said city staff has been in discussion with the company to build a new travel center in Decatur for about a year.

It was Love's that initially reached out to the city about the prospect of coming to Decatur, he said, and that its officials "knew where they wanted to be" regarding the new store's location. Gleason said there is currently no timeline of when the travel center would be completed if the council approves the proposal. 

Council members are scheduled to vote on the agreement during their Monday meeting at Decatur Civic Center, which begins at 5:30 p.m. 

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Contact Jaylyn Cook at (217) 421-7980. Follow him on Twitter: @jaylyn_HR

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