Posted 3 weeks ago
By John Axtell
Dawes County District Judge Travis O’Gorman has granted a Chadron truck stop a temporary restraining order halting the scheduled paving of Ash Street north of Highway 20 between Big Bat’s Conoco and Taco John’s. Ash Street south of Highway 20 is also Highway 385.
Big Bat’s LLC opposes the project, which saw the city create a paving district in April after the restaurant, Security First Bank, and developer Eddie Buettner petitioned for it over the objection of Big Bat’s. The street would provide a second entrance to Taco John’s and Security First Bank and primary access to Buettner’s undeveloped property behind them.
The 3 businesses own the land on the west side of the street and have just over 50% of the total street frontage because the east side includes the right-of-way for an extension of 3rd Street. The city council earlier this month awarded a $340,000 contract to Fuller Construction for the project.
Big Bat’s appealed the district and the contract in court on multiple grounds, but the company’s attorney, Joseph Kishiyama of Scottsbluff, says the restraining order was needed because the paving work was scheduled to start next Tuesday…before the scheduled hearing on the appeal.
Kishiyama says a hearing on extending the order or converting it into an injunction has been scheduled for September 10, but Clerk of the District Court Sharon Harrison says she’s receiving no request or paperwork for a hearing on that date.
Ash Street north of Highway 20 has long been platted but undeveloped, with the truck stop owners over the years using it for truck parking. When Big Bat’s bought the business in 1997, all the property to the west was undeveloped and they paved much of the street route as a parking lot
After the opening of the bank last year, the three west side businesses asked Big Bat’s about extending the paving to their locations to eliminate problems with mud, potholes, and parked trucks but the truck stop owners said no…triggering the petition request for the project.
The street must be approved by the Nebraska Department of Roads, which says approval won’t be granted unless the design includes an island-median to prevent trucks from going directly from Big Bat’s to the intersection and blocking traffic.
Big Bat’s says its diesel fuel pumps are aligned in such a way trucks pull in from the north and exit to the south to Ash Street…which would be blocked by the island.
Big Bat’s says there isn’t enough room to the west of the pumps for the trucks to turn back to the north to enter the new street, while the layout of the rest of the complex prevents trucks from leaving the pumps to the east and circling around the store to reach the new street.
The company is afraid it would be so hard on trucks to get in and out that they’d stop coming to Big Bat’s…while the only apparent solution…moving the pumps…could cost $500,000 when current pollution and safety rules are figured in.
Ash Street isn’t the only major challenge facing Big Bat’s Shell. The Maverik’s convenience store chain is currently building a 5,000 square foot store and gas station that is scheduled to open later this year directly across Highway 20 from Big Bat’s.