Biggest gas station in the state: Orange County debates controversial new development
Posted January 22, 2021 6:41 p.m. EST
Updated January 23, 2021 6:51 a.m. EST
Efland, N.C. — An unassuming piece of undeveloped land in Orange County is likely one of the most discussed development proposals in the region right now.
Developers are dreaming of putting the biggest gas station in the state as an anchor to a development called Efland Station, right off I-40 and 85.
The Texas-based company called Buc-ee's already boasts some of the largest gas stations in the world, but people in North Carolina aren't used to seeing 60 double-sized pumps, or a gas station comparable to a Wal-Mart in size and in product offerings.
In Texas, Buc-ee's is a pop-culture phenomenon.
However, many Orange County locals see it as a Texas-sized nightmare.
Huge controversey over Buc-ee's
The rolling countryside of cow pasture and woods makes this portion of the state picturesque.
Off Exit 160, locals can get a BLT at Missy's or fill up at the Exxon.
Ann Roberts, whose old home backs up to where the cows roam, wants to keep it simple – to keep it country.
But, there is an eight-lane interstate in the picture.
And plans for a 64,000 square foot travel center.
"I think it's too big of a development," said Roberts.
She agrees the location is convenient because it's right off the highway, but she's concerned the small community can't support such a large and bustling development.
In the crossroads community of Efland, other locals who share her concern have put up signs:
"A traffic nightmare is coming!"
"Our home is not a pit stop!"
Nick Burch, a Hillsborough resident, worries about the watershed.
"The potential is there for major catastrophes if they have issues, and with a gas station that size, it seems like they will," he said.
Orange County commissioners have given Buc-ee's a list of requests to consider before they vote on the development.
For instance: Could you make it just a little smaller, with fewer pumps? And could you make the signs not so tall?
Texas-sized economy boost for the small towns
At Ronnie's Auto Shop, Michelle Pope is pumped about Buc-ee's.
"You can't live this close to the interstate and not expect something there," said Pope.
It's not just any interstate: It's the mighty I-40 and I-85. Up to 125,000 big rigs, minivans, RVs and Harley's pass through every day.
Buc-ee's will stop a chunk of that immense traffic.
Besides, Leo Allison, another local, said Efland's economy could use some fuel.
"They're gonna bring jobs," he said. "People leave this community every day and go someplace else to work."
Pope points out that Buc-ee's is known for being clean and having the most modern state-of-the-art fueling stations.
"They're amazing," she said.
In addition to Bucee's, Efland Station could have a hotel room and manufacturing, office and retail space.
Orange County commissioners will meet on February 16th and could vote on the project at that time.
It is said they do things bigger in Texas. At this tiny dot on the road map, Orange County could soon see just how big.