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Saturday September 18th

Future of Buc-ee's Efland Station remains unclear after Tuesday's BOCC meeting

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The Orange County Board of Commissioners has yet to reach a final decision on the Buc-ee's Efland Station project, which would bring the world's largest gas station to rural Efland. 

The project — which, if passed, would be 104 acres located along the Interstate 40/85 corridor off of Exit 161 — has received opposition from Orange County residents and social media. It would be built in two phases. The first phase would include a Buc-ee's travel center, and the second phase would include a hotel, restaurants and commercial space.

The board voted 5-2 to continue the discussion on Feb. 16, which would give Buc-ee's time to consider scaling the project down, with commissioners Jean Hamilton and Renee Price dissenting.

No members of the public spoke at Tuesday night's meeting, which followed three weeks of public hearings about the project.

Some commissioners expressed concern that the project may be too large for the Efland area and be in direct conflict with the county’s Comprehensive Plan. 

Commissioner Jean Hamilton said she has concerns about how the project would affect the small town of Efland and the preservation of its community character. 

“In our comprehensive plan, we want to be a sustainable community that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future, and I don’t think this project does that,” Hamilton said. 

This would be the first Buc-ee’s location in North Carolina.  Beth Trahos, an attorney representing Buc-ee's at the meeting, said it is a good fit for Orange County. 

“The travel center will create activity and interest at the Efland exit and these businesses are more likely to come to Efland because of that activity,” Trahos said.

Board members focused on the large scale of the project and the ambiguity surrounding its second phase in providing their feedback to Buc-ee's. 

Commissioner Sally Greene asked that a contract be in place promising the development of phase two before allowing any construction to begin on Buc-ee’s. 

Greene said this project site is located at both the gateway into Efland and a prime area along the highway. She said the site can be both only if the phase two construction can create a mixed-use development. 

But Commissioner Earl McKee said the project needs to be taken advantage of, as it will provide opportunity and well-paying jobs to the people of Orange County. 

“Should we decline this project, I would not be surprised to see it regenerate within 25 to 30 miles of Orange County, giving revenue to another county,” McKee said. 

The board will allow Buc-ee's to consider these new conditions at a Feb. 16 meeting.

Earlier in the night, the board honored Orange County native Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett for her dedication to COVID-19 research and her involvement in the creation of the Moderna vaccine by proclaiming Jan. 20 as "Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett Day."

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@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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