More than two dozen citizens signed up to weigh in at Mebane’s planning board meeting Monday night on the proposed Mebane Buc-ee’s.
Some were Efland residents, highlighting their success at fostering opposition to the major travel center company from locating there as it had announced plans to do more than a year ago before withdrawing its application in the face of criticism and opposition from both Orange County residents and its county commissioners.
Others were those favoring electric vehicles and solar power, who criticized the company’s focus on the “dying fossil fuel industry.”
And, as almost always with consideration of new residential, commercial, and industrial proposals in Mebane, the impact of increased traffic was a major point of discussion. Even the company’s willingness to spend millions of its own dollars for expanding roads, entrance and exit ramps, and the highway overpass was insufficient for opponents.
There was also some support for the company from those who are enthusiastic from their experiences at other Buc-ee’s locations across Texas and the Southeast.
Among the comments:
Patty Dischinger, now of Chapel Hill, said she grew up across the street from the proposed Buc-ee’s location. She drew analogies to the nearby location on the other side of the interstate interchange of what had been a Stuckey’s (where Love’s truck stop is now located).
Dischinger said she preferred to the Buc-ee’s to “another warehouse,” which is what the land is currently zoned for.
Theresa Jensen, who owns 100 acres elsewhere near Mebane, questioned the value of having a Buc-ee’s in Mebane. In particular, she drew a bead on the fact that 46 percent of the parcel would be impervious surface, which she predicted will increase the likelihood of flooding in the area.
She, like several other speakers, also emphasized that small businesses will be impacted and “go out of business” as a result of the new travel center and criticized the idea of “perpetuating fossil fuel” by providing a travel plaza with 120 gas pumps. [The company’s planned 24 electric recharging stations were either ignored or termed insufficient by opposition speakers.]
Lucas Babinec made a similar criticism about the travel center having “too much concrete.”
Richard Miller, who lives in the Hawfields community, described the Buc-ee’s as a “monster” development that would suck up the city’s resources.
Edward Mazurek said Mebane is becoming known for warehouses, fast food, and traffic. Up north, he said, interstates are built with clover leaf patterns, but here, he said, “there are more and more stoplights to get on or off an interstate,” adding that the Buc-ee’s would make the situation only worse.
Janet Ecklebarger said a Buc-ee’s would make Mebane a mere “pit stop,” and as such as an “insult to Mebane.” She predicted the demise of other gas stations who would lose business to the huge travel center, terming the impact a “true American nightmare.”
Ecklebarger saracastically referred to the company as “Yuckee’s.”
Mebane resident Mary McFarland said Mebane doesn’t have the water to support Buc-ee’s. The company estimates it will use 23,000 gallons per day. [City officials have said Mebane’s water supply is adequate for years to come, for residential, commercial, and industrial users.]
Laurie Weatherly of Efland declared that Buc-ee’s “is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.” She also criticized the company’s products as “crap food and junky stuff to buy.” She added, “gas is on its way out.”
A couple of speakers, including Bonita Rayner and Aminah Ghaffar, said that the land where Buc-ee’s is planning to build is the site of a former Occaneechi trading path. [The Occaneechi have historically been identified as living in the northeast corner of Alamance County in the period of 1680-1710, five to seven or more miles from the Mebane site for the potential Buc-ee’s.]
Sarah Stitsinger and Lorraine Werts both questioned what the benefit would be to Mebane of allowing what Werts termed “another truck stop without the trucks.”
Stitsinger also criticized the fact that representatives of Buc-ee’s “were given all the time they need,” using about two hours of the almost four-hour meeting, but public speakers were limited to three minutes each. The cumulative time spent hearing from those who signed up to speak, most of whom expressed opposition to the Buc-ee’s, was about an hour-and-a-half.
Planning board chairman Edward Tulauskas responded that the planning board was not obligated to allow public speakers any time to speak, but was willing to do so within reason.
The actual, state-mandated public hearing on the company’s rezoning and special use zoning requests is set for January 8.
Mike Garrett was one of the few vocal Buc-ee’s supporters who spoke during the meeting. “It’s not just a store, it’s an experience.”
Garrett also dismissed some of the criticisms of speakers who pointed to the money Buc-ee’s would ultimately make from its Mebane location. “There’s no crime in making money,” he said.