- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

PENDLETON, Ore (AP) - Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores is moving ahead on a new truck stop along Interstate 84, about five miles west of Boardman.

Kealey Dorian, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma-based company, said the travel center should open by late spring and will include a convenience store, tire repair shop, 24 fuel pumps and Carl’s Jr. restaurant.

“It’s a very exciting time,” Dorian said. “We’re a growing company. We expect to open 40 new stores across the country this year.”

Love’s has more than 360 locations in 40 states, including three in Oregon. Two travel centers are located on I-84 in Ontario and Troutdale, and one on Interstate 5 in Roseburg. Dorian said the Boardman location fills another hole in their network.

“We stuck with this site because we believed it would be a really good spot for us,” she said.

Permitting the project has taken six years of clearing legal challenges and appeals from Devin Oil Co., a local business that owns two fuel stations in Boardman. Morrow County has twice approved conditional land use permits for Love’s - once in 2010, and again in 2015. Both times, Devin Oil raised objections to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals and the state Court of Appeals.

A representative for Devin Oil did not return calls for comment.

In one appeal, Devin Oil argued it would be adversely affected by Love’s due to “aggressive marketing and pricing practices.” The company also argued whether a travel center should be allowed at the I-84 and Tower Road interchange based on the county’s own zoning rules.

Each time, the courts ruled in favor of the county. LUBA issued its most recent decision in April, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in December. The Oregon Supreme Court declined to hear the case in 2012.

Morrow County Planning Director Carla McLane said the deadline for further appeals passed earlier this month, and she is happy to see the process finished.

“It’s nice to be done,” McLane said. “It’s been a real large time-consumer.”

Dorian said it generally costs about $10 million to build a new travel center. They will hire about 50 employees in Boardman, and start accepting applications next month.

“Most of those will be from the area,” Dorian said.

As part of its grand opening, Dorian said Love’s will donate $2,000 to a local school or nonprofit organization. The business sets aside $450 every year to invest in the community.

“We really try to do a good job of coming in and being good stewards to the community,” Dorian said.

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