Milner gas station proposed

Planning Commission will hold hearing Thursday

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— A rural Hayden couple is planning to develop a new gas station and convenience store on U.S. Highway 40 in the unincorporated town of Milner.

The new Pine Street Station, if approved by the county, would be built on the corner of U.S. 40 and Pine Street, across Pine from the Milner Roadhouse.

Geoff and Betsy Blakeslee are scheduled for a pre-application review before the County Planning Commission on Thursday.

No vote on the project will be taken at that time. The purpose of the hearing is to give the developers guidance on any potential issues surrounding their application.

Geoff Blakeslee said he and his wife purchased the site a little more than a year ago.

"I have an entrepreneurial side, and I've been thinking about this for almost three years," Blakeslee said.

His plans are not firm at this point, but he said he envisions a small, independent country store. He might hire a manager to run the store, or he might lease the building to another operation, he said.

Before the project could go forward, the Blakeslees would be required to obtain a zone change from the county. Although there are nearby commercial operations on U.S. 40, the 0.31 acres owned by the Blakeslees is zoned medium-density residential.

Milner Sports is directly across U.S. 40 from the site. An existing home borders the property across an alley on the south.

Construction of the convenience store would result in the removal of three existing buildings that are no longer in use. They include two vacant homes and a shed.

The Blakeslees observed in a letter to the County Planning Department that it has been a decade since Milner had a food store.

"While we understand that Milner is not considered a growth area, it has been expressed to us over the years by numerous Milner residents that a small store and gas station is needed for the existing Milner community, as well as to provide a service for commuter traffic on Highway 40," the Blakeslees wrote.

A half-dozen residents of Pine Street have let the county know they do not concur.

In a letter to the planning department they expressed concerns about the safety of children in the neighborhood and the kind of business the store would attract.

"Opening up our street to more traffic will be a big mistake," the letter said. "There are at least six small children on Pine Street that need to be safe ... We believe this station will bring in riff-raff, transients and loitering and bigger semi-trucks. These trucks will use Milner as a truck stop, which is not safe for our children."

Historically, Milner had a small community store.

The Micheletti food store and gas station was first established in Milner in about 1922, where the Olde Milner Roadhouse restaurant is now.

The Compestine family operated the store until 1989.

After it was closed by the Compestines, the building stood vacant for a year, then was reopened by new owners in 1990. Ultimately, the building was converted for use as a restaurant.

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