Opinion art

Opinion

Have you ever been to Efland? Probably not. That’s why it’s surprising that people from all over showed up to oppose Efland Station, a project that advances community goals that we have been working on decades. We strongly support it. 

Efland Station is a destination travel center that sits on the interstate and is designed to attract business from the 125,000 cars that pass every day. The project is anchored by Buc-ee's, a Texas company that has been around for nearly 40 years.  

Buc-ee’s has a large fueling operation with 60 gas pumps and 10 charging stations for electric vehicles. There’s also a large store that sells everything from travel supplies, food and drinks, and gifts. They are known for barbecue, jerky and fudge, clothing and coolers, and a gift shop that sells local and regional items. Buc-ee’s claims to have the cleanest restrooms in America. 

That’s Phase 1. Phase 2 which is five or more years away, could add a hotel, restaurant, offices and more. Efland will once again have businesses that residents can enjoy, and that provide much needed jobs. 

It’s a transformational project complies fully with the county’s strict zoning, and exceeds the impervious surface, open space and stormwater requirements. Buc-ee’s is adding a water tower, high-speed broadband, and nearly $15 million in road improvements that were slated to be paid for by taxpayers. They are investing $40 million in total, without incentives from Orange County.

All Buc-ee’s needs now is a zoning change to add “travel center” to allowable uses for the 100-acre site. The zoning already allows manufacturing and distribution. The Planning Department and N.C. DOT has been working with Buc-ee's for months to develop plans and to confirm that it won’t risk local water supplies. The zoning change has been endorsed unanimously by the Planning Board.

Despite months of intense analysis from engineers, hydrologists, planners and more, the project is ensnarled in a disinformation campaign that is infuriating. Many opponents are unfamiliar with Efland, the site, or why this project is a good fit.

Opponents seem unaware of the years of planning work from the community and county planners or that Orange County taxpayers spent millions of dollars to bring sewer infrastructure to the site. Important questions about the project got lost in comments that sidestepped the facts, and resorted to misleading rhetoric and ugly accusations, including accusing Efland’s Fire Department of accepting a bribe to support Buc-ees.  

Opponents lectured us about climate change, clean water, and the future of fossil fuels without regard to the facts about the site and protections in the zoning and project plans. Opponents looked down on cashiers and custodians, even though Buc-ee’s living wage jobs, with vacation and benefits, are double the income of the average Efland resident.  

Efland was once a thriving rural community with a bank, post office, and other businesses. Local businesses and jobs have been been gone for a long time. If approved, Efland Station will change that. 

Our community has spent years to create zoning and conditions that allow a project like Efland Station. Now it’s time for the county commissioners, hopefully unanimously, to do their part and change the zoning to allow Buc-ee’s to move forward with Efland Station.

Efland deserves this shot. 

Leo Allison, Efland

Chad Aharon, Efland

Andy and Alana Cagle, Efland

Benny and Evelyn Cecil, Efland

Katherine Cheek, Schley

Patricia Clayton, Hillsborough

Archie Daniel, Hillsborough

Brian Crawford, St. Mary’s

Chrisean Fuller, Efland

Sam Gharbo, Efland

Dr. Stephen H. Halkiotis, Eno (Orange County Commissioner 1986-2006)

Bonnie Hauser, Orange Grove

Fred McAdoo, Efland

Margaret “Marie” McAdoo, Efland

Brenda McCall and Dick Harmsen, Efland

Karen Riley, Efland 

Paul Rockwell, Orange Grove

Kim Tesoro, Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce

Carnetta and George Swann, Efland

Susan Walser, Orange Grove

Pam Winstead, Efland (President, Perry Hills Association)

Kenneth Woods, Efland

Dr. Veronica Wright, Efland

Rev. Norman Umstead, Efland