It might not be expected for a gas station to develop a cult following, but that’s what Buc-ee’s, the chain of giant gas stations and mini-supermarkets, has done in Texas — and a new location may be coming to Auburn.
The Auburn City Council will vote on a proposed Buc-ee’s location near Exit 50 on Interstate 85 at its May 18 meeting. If the resolution is passed, the Auburn location will be the next in the Texas-based company’s expansion into Alabama, having opened or approved the development of three gas stations throughout the state since January 2019.
Buc-ee's stores are known for having a large number of fueling stations, large, sprawling selections of food, complete with delis and a barbecue selection and their recognizable iconography, brandished on shirts and hats of Buc-ee's devotees.
A legal notice of the upcoming vote to approve the gas station was published by the Opelika-Auburn News on May 10, which reads that the purpose of the resolution is to authorize a development agreement between the City of Auburn and Buc-ee’s to construct a roughly 50,000 square-foot “destination travel center.”
The proposed Buc-ee’s, to be located near the Auburn Technology Park on Cox Road, will have 116 fueling stations and 479 parking spots, according to documents from the Auburn Planning Commission’s April 8 meeting.
The proposed development site is currently located outside of city limits, but the Planning Commission has recommended the City annex the area. The Council will have to both approve the annexation of the area and then rezone the parcels from Rural to Comprehensive Development District for the project to be approved.
Ward 8 Council member Tommy Dawson represents the area surrounding the proposed site and expressed support for the proposed business.
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“I definitely think it’s a positive thing,” Dawson said. “I don’t want to say too much about it until we get it in front of the Council, and I don’t want to get ahead of the Council. But I’m very excited and happy that Buc-ee’s is considering doing business here in Auburn.”
Dawson said he’s heard from some of his constituents that they’d like to see the business in the area. He also said that he plans to vote in favor of the resolution at the upcoming meeting.
Other residents were irritated by the potential business coming to Auburn, noting the cost of the development, which the public notice said will be funded in part by the City. If approved, the City will make payments to the company over a period of 25 years, payable solely from approximately one-half of all non-education City-levied sales and use tax revenues and one-half of City-levied fuel tax revenues, the notice reads.
“Auburn’s not that big to be needing something so gigantic,” said Shae McIntyre, 23. “Maybe in Atlanta or Georgia I could understand that, but they’re just filling up spots, wasting money yet again on stuff we don’t need when we already have Circle K, MAPCO and all these other brands here so it just makes no sense to add this huge gas station.”
McIntyre called the proposed gas station “unnecessary,” saying she felt there’s already enough development in Auburn.
“There’s already so much stuff here, barely enough room for people,” she said.
Others seemed to show indifference to the proposed Buc-ee’s location. Lauren Lavender, junior in biomedical sciences and neuroscience, said she’s heard her friends from Texas talk about Buc-ee's stores, but isn’t very familiar with the chain.
“I guess it’s cool,” Lavender said. “We have a Wal-Mart and things like that so if it’s similar to that then it’s another location to try out I suppose, but I don’t have any big thoughts about it one way or another.”
The Plainsman reached out to Buc-ee's on May 11 but has not heard back from the company. The story will be updated if The Plainsman receives a response.
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