The proposed gas station site is west of Interstate 95 near the Embrey Mill and Austin Ridge neighborhoods in Stafford County. (Image courtesy Stafford County Planning and Zoning)

The Buc-ee’s stops here? Stafford residents put off by potential gas giant

by | May 10, 2024 | ALLFFP, Business, Real Estate, Stafford

The mascot for Buc-ee’s may be the beaver, but many Stafford residents aren’t eager for the business to come to the county.

Buc-ee’s, a Texas-based chain of large gas station/convenience stores, is seeking a permit to build what would be its third Virginia location near the intersection of Interstate 95 and Courthouse Road in Stafford. The initial public hearing on the proposal likely won’t be held until late fall or early winter at the earliest, but some Stafford residents who live near the proposed site have already begun voicing their opposition to it with county officials.

Buc-ee’s travel centers are larger than most other convenience stores, and the Stafford proposal calls for a 74,000-square-foot building with 120 gas pumps and 833 parking spaces (including 24 Tesla charging stations) on more than 36 acres.

The business is popular with many travelers, who scarf down its barbecue and puffed-corn Beaver Nugget snacks and buy beaver-themed clothes. They also like to stop at the stores because they contain what are proclaimed as the nation’s cleanest bathrooms.

From an economic development standpoint, Buc-ee’s says its travel center would generate significant tax revenue and create 200 jobs, with hourly positions paying an average of $16 to $19 per hour to start.

But opponents claim that these positives are outweighed by what they see as too many downsides. They have created a Change.org petition against the project and formed a Facebook group to share information, and they came to a Stafford Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday night to voice their concerns.

Artist rendering of a typical Buc-ee’s. (Photo courtesy Buc-ee’s)

More than 20 speakers, many from the nearby Austin Ridge and Embrey Mill subdivisions, said the proposal could cause many unwanted outcomes.

Greg Goldstein, for example, said Buc-ee’s would generate too much traffic, with enough visitors to potentially rival the numbers that come to Walt Disney World. The project would create more than 20,000 vehicle trips per day, according to a county filing.

“This is a significant issue for this county,” Goldstein told supervisors.

The traffic would be not only annoying, but also dangerous, said Caroline Grant, who lives in Embrey Mill. She said children walk and bike in the area and could fall victim to out-of-town drivers exiting the Interstate, many of whom are looking at their phones and not watching out for pedestrians.

“We’re talking about kids getting hit by cars,” Grant said.

Ignacio Esteban, who has a law-enforcement background, said that violent crime is associated with gas stations and convenience stores.

Anything would be better at the site unless it was a “massive pawn shop or something,” he said.

“The buck stops here,” he said. “No Buc-ee’s.”

Sean Mathews, who also lives in Embrey Mill, even took issue with Buc-ee’s cleanest-restroom claim.

“‘Plop, plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is.’ ‘It’s potty time.’ ‘You can hold it.’ ‘Potty like a rock star.’ ‘Let us plan your next potty.’ ‘Stopping the pee dance since 1982,’” Mathews said. “These are all billboards that you’ll find on your way to Buc-ee’s. To me, it sounds like Buc-ee’s wants to turn Stafford into one big toilet.”

The supervisors did not address these comments Tuesday night, but Supervisor Pamela Yeung, whose Garrisonville District includes the proposed Buc-ee’s site, wrote in an email Wednesday that county staff are reviewing a preliminary plan for the development.

“It is important to note that it will be several months before any discussion of this proposed business reaches the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors’ meetings,” Yeung wrote. “Any discussion at those meetings will allow residents to provide public comment in the future. Meanwhile, as the representative for the Garrisonville District, it is my duty to listen to all viewpoints and ensure transparency of this process.”

Multiple messages left with Buc-ee’s representatives were not immediately returned this week.

Outside Tuesday night’s meeting, Goldstein also pointed out what he considers to be a political connection for Buc-ee’s. The company’s founder and CEO, Arch “Beaver” Aplin III, gave $50,000 to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia political action committee Sept. 8, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks money in politics.

In January, Youngkin attended the groundbreaking for a Buc-ee’s off Interstate 81 in Rockingham County. A third Buc-ee’s is planned for land in New Kent County off Interstate 64.

Founded in 1982, Buc-ee’s has 34 stores in Texas and 14 locations in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Colorado.

Subscribe To Daily News Updates

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news from The Free Press

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This