A new gas station and convenience store development is planned in Templeton — but not everyone in the community is happy about it.
The project, planned for the north side of Las Tablas Road west of Highway 101, will include 16 fuel pumps, nine electric vehicle charging stations and a 24-hour convenience store, according to San Luis Obispo County senior planner Eric Tolle.
The project will fill an empty lot between Bennett and Duncan roads near Highway 101, Tolle said.
Templeton resident Joe Jarboe appealed the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission’s approval of the project, calling the development a “monstrosity” that is too large and loud to be located 500 feet away from residential homes.
“This giant, 24-hour gas station is not wanted in Templeton,” he said, noting that 120 Templeton residents joined his appeal. “Noise, pollution, traffic, crime — these are just some of the reasons why it’s undesirable.”
Meanwhile, other community members said they look forward to a 24-hour convenience store in a town where most establishments close early.
Templeton resident Brad Goodrow shared his support for the project at the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.
“We don’t think about the people. When we’re all asleep, they’re out working,” he said. “I used to be one of those. It was sure nice to stop to get a cup of coffee and get a snack at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning.”
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to deny an appeal of the project and approve its design on Tuesday, with Supervisors Bruce Gibson and Jimmy Paulding dissenting.
Supervisor John Peschong, who represents the area, noted that the developer made some compromises and reduced the size of the project after listening to the community at five public meetings.
Peschong said the development “will benefit the community” and is appropriately located in a commercial area next to the lots for a future hotel and grocery store.
Still, he thanked people for sharing their opinion on the project — even if they disagree with him.
“This not a battle between neighbors, this is a discussion about policy and property rights,” Peschong said. “I don’t hold any ill will against anyone in the room, and I appreciate your opinion.”
Gibson and Paulding, however, did not support the amount of signage included in the project or the 24-hour nature of the convenience store — as they conflict with guidelines in the Templeton Community Design Plan.
Gas station design changed over time
The developer, Filippone Family Trust, changed the project design based on community feedback, according to the developer’s representative Jamie Jones.
“Community input and the public process shaped the project that it is today,” she said.
Originally, the project included a car wash and quick service restaurant, but the developer removed them from the design due to community concerns about noise, Jones said.
The developer also implemented landscaping as a buffer between the gas station and the nearby homes, she said.
The project increased the amount of signage from 237 square feet to 802 square feet.
The original design of the station included a 20,000-gallon underground fuel storage tank, but the new design doubles that size to 40,000 gallons, which “reduces the number of large truck trips that need to come in to deliver fuel,” Jones said.
Finally, the convenience store was supposed to operate from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., but the developer decided to keep the convenience store open for 24 hours per day.
Project supporters appreciated that the convenience store would be open at all hours.
Templeton resident Casey Guenther said it will be helpful for his family to have a place to get coffee or a snack in the evening.
“As a dad with seven kids — seven athletes, things go on past 7 o’clock all the time,” he said. “This is a perfect spot for something our community needs.”
Those who opposed the project, however, thought it was incompatible with Templeton’s small-town charm.
“Templeton is a special, unique little town that needed to be protected,” Templeton resident Nancy Shaw said. “Please do not undo the effort and wisdom of these planners and ruin our little town with an unnecessary and unwanted gas station with a huge convenience store.”
Project to generate taxes, fees
During construction, the developer will pay about $1.2 million in road fees to the county, according to SLO County Public Works Department development services manager David Grim.
This funding can be allocated toward road improvement projects in Templeton, including adding a lane and sidewalks to Las Tablas Road, or toward the $2.5 million project to widen a southbound Highway 101 off-ramp in the community, Grim said.
The development will also generate $550,000 in sales tax annually, with $100,000 going directly to the county, according to Jones.
Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg said she was excited for the county to have access to this funding.
“We can’t fix things unless we have revenue,” she said. “We need those tax dollars, particularly in the unincorporated area.”