Monday night’s 9 hour City Council meeting was dominated by 2 proceedings related to the 32.5 acre Buc-ee’s gas station proposal in Mebane, NC. Buc-ee’s representatives held the floor for most of the night, with community members waiting until almost 10pm for an opportunity to speak for 3 minutes each. 40 concerned community members, citizens of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, environmental justice leaders, as well as public health experts demonstrated the project’s detrimental impacts to Mebane’s downtown businesses, environmental and community health, and traffic flow.
The historical and cultural desecration of the Great Occaneechi Trading Path posed by the project was raised a number of times, including by a professional archeologist, and demands for an updated archeological survey were reiterated. 22 members of the public gave comments in support of the project. At points, over 1,000 viewers were tuned into the livestream, and the YouTube recording has close to 10,000 views. By the 2am close of the meeting, the Council had voted unanimously to grant both Buc-ee’s rezoning request, as well as Buc-ee’s special use permit.
Coda Cavalier, Youth Organizer at 7 Directions of Service (7DS), responded:
“The Mebane City Council heard testimonies from multiple tribes and Indigenous speakers, yet still broke trust and disgraced our cultural site, while simultaneously breaking the trust of the dozens of people who waited for hours to give their time and spirit to stop this harmful project. I hold those on the council accountable for their actions. These "leaders" do not speak for those who stand for environmental and humanitarian justice. This generation, and those following, will always remember the Council’s approval of Buc-ee’s as cowardly, driven by dollar signs, that will only line the pockets of Texas-based capitalists, who have never considered our community over their corporation.”
Jason Crazy Bear Keck, Co-Founder of 7 Directions of Service (7DS), responded:
“The predatory nature of this project and others like it, that invade a community from states away, with no respect or responsibility to locals, reveals itself in the division such actors create upon entering a small town, a “positively charming" city such as ours. The cookie-cutter corporate division tactic has always been to frame those who are critical of their exploitative practices, as against all development. The uneducated response–from those easily manipulated–is to cheerlead all projects regardless of the harm, lack of need and integrity. All development becomes a good thing. Buc-ee’s and others like them are cunning and smart in their pursuit to exploit the innocent. Us working people must stay united, critically thinking and vigilant in the face of such abuses.”
Ayo Wilson, Director of Clean Energy & Climate Justice of the West End Revitalization Association (WERA), responded:
“Mebane City Council dismissed the concerned, informed voices of its citizens and the vote from the Mebane Planning Board in favor of corporate profits that will never see the light of day in the City. Buc-ee’s executives claim to be friendly and supportive of clean energy and electric vehicles, while doing nothing to accommodate that as we see clean energy initiatives gain traction around the nation. A business with massive fossil fuel infrastructure claiming to be a friend of the environment is an assault on common sense. Buc-ee’s will bring only environmental degradation and contamination while adding more stress on Mebane’s infrastructure as communities of color, and low-income communities continue to be intentionally excluded. Buc-ee’s is a bad step backwards for all of NC.”
Emily Sutton, Haw Riverkeeper with the Haw River Assembly responded:
“I'm encouraged by the tenacity of our community members to stay well into the early hours of the morning to speak out against this project. Though the council has approved these initial permits, we will continue to push Buc-ees to follow through on their promises for environmental safeguards. This company has much work to do to build trust in this community, and it can start by going beyond bare minimum requirements to protect our communities and our water quality.”