Auburn votes for turn lane on Cox Road

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PHOTO BY JOSH FISHER / FOR THE OPELIKA OBSERVER

By Hannah Lester
hlester@opelikaobserver.com

Bike lanes? Or no bike lanes?

Auburn city council members debated the benefit of bike lanes on Cox Road vs. a turn lane in an issue brought forth by Ward 8 Council Member Tommy Dawson. 

At the last city council meeting, Dawson asked that the council discuss the possibility of a turn lane on Cox Road from Fieldview to Wire due to the dangers that are often presented on that road. 

The council voted during the committee of the whole to add the item to the agenda officially. 

The previous plan for Cox Road was bike paths. In order to institute a turn-lane during the resurfacing and striping project on Cox Road, the bike paths would be nixed. 

Dawson cited the dangers of turning onto the road and the concerns of his constituents when he presented the idea. 

“Until you ride Cox Road regularly or until you live out there, it’s hard to understand what I’m speaking of,” he said.

Other council members, Ward 2 Council Member Kelley Griswold and Ward 6 Council Member Bob Parsons opposed the idea in favor of the safety that bike lanes present to cyclists. 

“I think hands-down the cyclist community would appreciate a buffer between their bike and the general traffic,” Parsons said. “And I am very confident to say that that particular bike would be very appreciated in terms of an overall arching strategy about connecting this city.

Parsons is a cyclist himself and he, along with Griswold and citizens in the audience, expressed hope for a more connected Auburn that is accessible to bikers. 

“I will brave the road, but I would rather not feel like I’m braving the road,” he said. “I would rather feel like I’m welcomed on the road.”

Another cyclist, Randall McDaniel said he feels Cox is too dangerous to ride on. 

“Most cyclists would like to have some area of relief between cars and them so they don’t get run over,” he said. 

However, there were citizens too concerned with vehicle safety and council members. 

“What makes Auburn great is that people really care about the things they really care about and we have a great cycling community here and I commend the fact that they want the best for their community,” said Mayor Ron Anders. “We’ve also got a new roadway here that leads to a new interchange. It’s going to have redevelopment on it over the years and it’s kind of quirky right now … I believe just based on what’s bound to happen in that area is there’s going to be significant redevelopment on Cox road and there’s going to be more cars out there and there’s going to be more people out there and from my perspective, the best thing to do for this community is to make it the most palatable for our vehicles.”

Ward 4 Council Member Brett Smith proposed labeling the idea until the June 15 meeting but City Manager Megan Crouch asked the council members to consider the item Tuesday night as the city was under several contracts and time constraints with the striping project. 


The motion to postpone the item failed and the item moved forward for voting. 

The new ordinance to add a turn lane passed the council by a vote of 5 to 3. 

Buc-ee’s 

Land that will be used for the Buc-ee’s property was annexed into the city and rezoned from rural to commercial development district zoning during Tuesday night’s city council meeting. 

The council also passed a resolution related to the land. The council passed a conditional use approval for Gonzalez-Strength Associates on behalf of Hubert Boatwright and Harry and Alison Painter for a road service use for the Buc-ee’s Property.

This approval allows for a gasoline service station and car wash which can accommodate up to 120 fueling pumps, the city’s e-packet. 

Although these contracts and agreements allow the Buc-ee’s to move forward with its Auburn plan, the city had already approved a commercial development agreement with the company. 

The council voted on the agreement at its meeting two weeks prior, which stipulated that the city will remit certain taxes. In exchange, Buc-ee’s will be creating tax revenue in the city, along with 175 new jobs and investing $45 million in Auburn. 

Now, however, the land is annexed and zoned for the appropriate use. 

Stan Beard, director of real estate for Buc-ee’s, said that the company hopes to open before football season 2022. 

Graduate Hotel:

The Auburn City Council granted a six month extension for the conditional use approval of the Graduate Hotel at its Tuesday meeting. 

The council originally granted conditional use approval for the future hotel, The Graduate Hotel, in May, 2020. 

“The conditional use approval is set to expire on November 19, 2021,” said a memorandum from Logan Kipp, AICP principal planner to the Auburn Planning Commission. “However, according to Section 803.05 of the City of Auburn Zoning Ordinance, there is an opportunity for a single six (6) month extension to be granted by the City Council, upon recommendation by the Planning Commission.”

The applicant asked the planning commission and council for an extension due to difficulties with the hotel project that arose from COVID-19. 

“The project engineering team plans to resume design of the project in the coming months but full plans would not be ready in time to meet the expiration of the use approval,” the memorandum said. 

Other Business: 

  • The council approved a restaurant retail liquor alcohol beverage license for Amsterdam Cafe. 
  • The council approved a tax abatement for Straehle+Hess USA, Inc in the auburn Technology Park South. 
  • The council approved a preliminary engineering, right-of-way and construction agreement for over $1.2 million with ALDOT for preliminary engineering of a roundabout at Wire Road and Cox Road. Federal Funding will supply $696,000. 
  • The council approved a professional services agreement with Thompson Engineering, Inc. for resurfacing, widening, traffic signals and drainage improvements on South College Street, Samford Avenue and Gay Street for $600,000. 
  • The council approved a contract with William Cecil Starr and William Cecil Starr, Jr. for the purchase of just over 3 acres located between the Environmental Services and Public Works Relocation Project and Auburn Technology Park West for $30,000.
  • The council approved a contract with Communications International to reprogram the public safety radios for over $18,000. 
  • The council approved the assignment of a commercial development agreement for Orange Holding Company I, Inc. 
  • The council approved a contract with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP for governmental affairs representation services for $108,000.
  • The council approved a contract with the Alabama High School Athletics Association, the Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau and the city of Opelika for the Alabama High School Athletic Association Super 7 Football Championships. 
  • The council approved an easement for SMB Land, LLC.
  • The council approved a board appointment to the Indian Pines Recreation Authority. 
  • The council annexed 13.27 acres for Michale Allen Homes for property on Lee Road 51. 
  • The council approved the disposition of unneeded real estate and granted a sanitary sewer easement for Ironton Land Investments, LLC. 
  • The council approved changing the speed limit on North College Street from 45 mph to 40 mph between Drake Avenue and Shelton Mill Road. 

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