Orange County could see a drastic change to our area in the near future. The Texas-based convenience-store chain, Buc-ee’s, is planning to open its first North Carolina location in rural Efland — a 104-acre project that, if passed, would be the largest gas station in the world.
Buc-ee’s may be a Texas favorite, but we don’t need one here.
The proposed Buc-ee’s would be the centerpiece of a multiphase plan called Efland Station, which would also include hotels, restaurants and commercial space. The Buc-ee’s would include 120 gas pumps and a 250-foot car wash.
This would be a drastic change for the small, unincorporated community of Efland, which only has about 800 residents.
In response to this proposed plan, Efland residents created the group A Voice for Efland and Orange that highlights the local community’s concerns. The group emphasizes environmental, economic and quality of life impacts.
In addition, there are serious concerns about the environmental impact of this development. Many environmental organizations, including the Eno River Association, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Orange County Soil & Water Conservation District have written to the Orange County Board of Commissioners to express concerns about the project.The station would be built over a protected watershed, whose tributaries serve as public water supply for Orange County and others downstream. A spill of any kind would be disastrous for the local communities.
In January, the Orange County Board of Commissioners voted to continue the discussion on Feb. 16, leaving the future of the Buc-ee's project unclear — for now. This is a step in the right direction, as the board takes into account the tangible impacts the community could face as a result of this development.
While this delay seems to be a win, it still leaves open the possibility of Buc-ee’s establishing a mega-sized truck stop in Efland. If their proposal is denied, Buc-ee’s could decide to move the development plan to another location in North Carolina, which could be just as disastrous.
There are important considerations in favor of developing this piece of land into a Buc-ee’s that the commissioners and Buc-ee’s lawyers are considering. Such a project would provide an influx of jobs and tax dollars, and potentially support further development in the area.
These benefits, however, do not outweigh the demands of local residents and the environmental risks of the project. With a station this large, the surrounding community would be consumed by the development.
This Buc-ee’s is not an Efland project, but rather an outside chain seeking to profit from local needs. Efland-based businesses and projects intended to support local Orange County residents should be prioritized.
The Editorial Board hears and respects the concerns of Efland residents. Changes to zoning laws and business plans must prioritize the long-term benefit to Efland and Orange County residents — not the wishes of multimillion-dollar corporations based more than 1,000 miles away.
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