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Buc-ee’s eyes Mebane for first N.C. location

Spurned by Efland & Orange County, co. sets sights on Trollingwood Road exit on edge of industrial park

Buc-ee’s is back, this time with a proposal to build a travel plaza on 32.49 acres along I-85/40, at 1447 Trollingwood-Hawfields Road, which is within Mebane’s jurisdiction.

Headquartered in Jackson, Texas, Buc-ee’s has filed a preliminary site plan with the city of Mebane, seeking rezoning to build a 75,440-square foot store that would have as many as 120 gas pumps and eight diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) pumps.

UPDATE ON SIZE: At 75,440 square feet, the Mebane location would, at least temporarily, become the largest Buc-ee’s in the nation.  A 74,000-square-foot Buc-ee’s recently opened in Seiverville, Tennessee, and a 75,000-square-foot site has been announced for Luling, Texas.  But all will be eclipsed by an 80,000-square-foot store also on the drawing board for Ocala, Florida.

Buc-ee’s had unsuccessfully sought to build a travel plaza in western Orange County, along Mount Willing Road in Efland. The company ultimately withdrew its application for conditional rezoning in early 2021 amid vigorous opposition from neighbors.

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“The site plan is likely to change before the project moves forward to [the] planning board and city council,” Mebane development director Ashley Ownbey told The Alamance News Wednesday. “A Special Use Permit is also required, but we have not yet received that application. A Traffic Impact Analysis was also submitted to the [state Department of Transportation] and city of Mebane…It is still under review.”

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Given the site’s location within the North Carolina Commerce Park, there would be a three-way split in revenues among Mebane, Graham, and the county, if the project is approved, Mebane city manager Chris Rollins confirmed for the newspaper Wednesday.

The site along Trollingwood-Hawfields Road is adjacent to I-85/40 and is technically part of three separate parcels owned by Sarah S. Bradley of 917 Arrowhead Lane in Mebane. The property, which is vacant, spans a combined total of 89.89 calculated acres and has a total tax value of more than $5.2 million, according to Alamance County’s tax department.

Buc-ee’s however, is looking to develop a 32.5-acre portion of the property that Bradley owns, based on materials that the city of Mebane furnished Wednesday to The Alamance News.

Plans submitted in Mebane show 75,440 sq. ft. store, 120 gas pumps

Buc-ee’s earlier plans to build a gas station and retail store in Efland had divided northern Orange County residents into two factions: opponents, who worried about potential traffic congestion and environmental impacts; the proponents had hoped it would bring an estimated 200 jobs paying an average of $15 an hour, which proponents had said at the time was “equal and above the Orange County living wage.”

Opponents later formed a group, called “Voice for Efland & Orange,” circulated a petition that garnered signatures from some 6,000 purported opponents, and lobbied the seven Orange County commissioners to reject the rezoning request. Buc-ee’s voluntarily withdrew its application in 2021.

Buc-ee’s claims to have “the world’s cleanest restrooms,” citing a survey conducted in 2012 by the business supply company Cintas. The company has dozens of locations throughout the Southeast, including in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee, as well as its home state of Texas.

The newest location opened earlier this month in Sevierville, Tennessee, just over the state line, about an hour from western North Carolina. Buc-ee’s describes that travel plaza – which also features 120 gas pumps – is the first store to open in a planned commercial development called “The 407 – Gateway to Adventure,” according to a news report that ran earlier this week.

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