Editor: Shannon Cottongame
April 6, 2022
Plans for a Buc-ee’s travel center in Hillsboro were discussed in a public meeting for the first time Monday night, March 28, as the company submitted requests to the city’s Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission.
Buc-ee’s Hillsboro, LLC is seeking exceptions to the city’s sign ordinance to accommodate its proposed development on Highway 77 near the Interstate 35 overpass in northeast Hillsboro.
In public documents submitted to the commission, the company revealed plans to build a 74,000 square-foot store in Hillsboro, which would reportedly be the biggest Buc-ee’s in Texas.
A 74,000 square-foot Buc-ee’s under construction in Sevier County, Tennessee is expected to take the largest Buc-ee’s title from the New Braunfels store, which currently holds the world record for the biggest convenience store in the world at 66,335 square feet.
Although a portion of the property has been purchased and plans are in the works, the project has not been finalized as negotiations between Buc-ee’s, the City of Hillsboro and Hill County continue. A second parcel of land also reportedly must be purchased to complete the project.
It was reported at the meeting that a portion of the property for the development is located outside the city limits and could be considered for annexation by the city at a later date.
While it is apparent that big plans are being made, the only matter before the Planning and Zoning Commission at the meeting was the dimensions of Buc-ee’s signs.
The company is requesting wall signs on all four sides of the building instead of the two sides allowed in the ordinance. It is also requesting that the signs be 285 square feet, while the largest wall sign allowed in the ordinance is 200 square feet.
The height of the large pole sign on the property will be 125 feet if the request is approved, while the current limit in the ordinance is 100 feet. It would also be larger than the 400 square feet that the existing ordinance allows, at 616 square feet.
The company is asking to place signs on all four sides of its fuel canopies instead of the two sides allowed in the ordinance. It is also requesting that these signs be 71 square feet, while the maximum allowed in the ordinance is 32 square feet.
In its request, the company stated that the city’s sign ordinance does not contemplate the large-scale, single-user structures that Buc-ee’s constructs. For example, the wall sign area relative to the wall space for the proposed building averages 3.3 percent per wall.
The documents noted that Buc-ee’s request for a pole sign height of 125 feet is specifically dependent upon sight lines from the southbound Interstate 35 exit ramps. For projects where travelers at interstate speeds need to see the sign and safely maneuver to exit, the company requests taller pole signs.
The third reason given for the request was to maintain consistency within the Buc-ee’s brand. The two locations closest to Hillsboro—in Temple and Ennis—have similar signage, although Hillsboro’s proposed store would be larger than these 53,000 square-foot locations.
It was noted by city staff at the meeting that Hillsboro’s sign ordinance is restrictive compared to many other cities, and that may be an issue to consider as the planning process continues.
In November, another developer requested exceptions to the city’s sign ordinance. At that time, the P&Z Commission recommended and the City Council approved exceptions for QT South and its planned travel center located off of the I-35 service road near Corsicana Highway.
After discussion, the commission voted to recommend that the City Council approve Buc-ee’s request for exceptions to the sign ordinance. The request was on the Hillsboro City Council’s agenda for consideration Tuesday, April 5.