A Hummel Report Investigation
For eight years the owners of 18 prime acres in Hopkinton and a national company have teamed up trying to build a multi-million dollar travel stop at Exit 1 just off Route 95. Proponents figured with few facilities for motorists along that section of the Interstate it would be a good fit. But the proposal has been tied up in local boards and a Superior Court lawsuit for years. With another key decision on the plan expected by the end of the month, Jim Hummel talks with those on both sides of the issue.
For motorists coming up Route 95 from Connecticut and crossing into Rhode Island - it’s slim pickin’s for places to eat, get gas or find a bathroom either on - or right off - the highway.
Connecticut has a handful of what it calls service plazas right on the state’s 100- plus miles of Route 95 - but by the time drivers reach the Rhode Island border 50 miles will have passed since the last one going north in Madison Connecticut.
The newly-reopened Rhode Island Welcome Center six miles north of the border between exits 2 and 3 isn’t much of awelcome: basically a place to park and a line of port o’johns await motorists.
That’s why this property adjacent to a Park and Ride just off Exit 1 in Hopkinton attracted the attention of Love’s - a national company wanting to put in an $8 million to $10 million travel center half a mile north of the Rhode Island/Connecticut border. It would accommodate tractor-trailer trucks and have food and bathrooms for all motorists.
The Oklahoma-based company has nearly 400 travel stops in 40 states, but not much presence in New England.
Gingerella: ``The property, while it’s on the south side of 95 is actually more visible as you go north on 95 you can actually see it from almost a mile back.’’
David Gingerella’s family has owned 18 acres in this prime location for 65 years. Love’s approached the Gingerellas in 2007 about using six or seven of the acres, located in a manufacturing zone along Route 3. The company needs a special use permit from the town to do it. What Love’s thought might be a 12- 18-month process has turned into an eight-year battle that still is not over.
The proposal pits some in Hopkinton, who don’t think what they refer to as `the truck stop,’ fits in with the rural nature of the town - against property owners who say they should be able to develop land that is costing them $1,000 a month in property taxes.
Gingerella: ``For whatever reason this has been a project that’s been opposed. And I’m not quite sure it’s been opposed by the majority I just think you have a very vocal minority that are in town, you know: Not in My Back Yard, I don’t want anything here.’’