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Many concerned over proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter

A proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter planned for N.C. 73 could bring with it up to 500 jobs and more than $1 million in county sales taxes.
But it could also bring out strong opposition from residents and small business owners.
Andrew Johnson, president of the Denver Area Business Association, said small businesses could be affected.
“From DABA’s standpoint, as much as we appreciate growth, we still have reasons to be concerned about a company such as Wal-Mart and the impact that they have caused on small businesses,” Johnson said Friday after learning of the plans.
Plans submitted to the county’s Building and Land Development office Friday morning call for a 203,091-square-foot building and more than 1,000 parking spaces on 36 acres of land. The property is located on the north side of N.C. 73 just east of the new four-lane N.C. 16 that’s under construction, said Randy Hawkins, the county’s zoning administrator.
The land is currently heavily wooded.
Kelly Atkins, director of Building and Land Development, said plans for the supercenter moved swiftly.
“It hit us rather quickly,” Atkins said. “We heard some rumblings a month and a half ago …. (Company officials) had (plans) engineered before we ever first saw it.”
One of the main issues with the proposal will be traffic, Atkins said.
“We’re going to have some controversy,” he said. “It’s inevitable. Anytime you get a structure of that magnitude at a busy intersection, you’re going to have controversy.”
Johnson echoed the traffic concerns.
“As if it is not bad enough (in the area), and now they are adding a store that attracts 50 to 100 customers an hour,” he said.
In their rezoning report, Wal-Mart officials said they would construct all required N.C. Department of Transportation off-site improvements that will help with the increase in traffic.
The store will have two entrances, and traffic signals are proposed for N.C. 73, Atkins said.
“Staff is highly encouraging Wal-Mart to work closely with DOT,” he said.
Wal-Mart officials are also taking the staff’s suggestions as far as landscaping, Atkins said. The company seems to be willing to take extra steps to make the area more aesthetically pleasing.
While no regulations are currently in place for N.C. 73, the company plans landscaping on each parking aisle and around the perimeter. The natural vegetation behind the store will remain.
“It’s hopefully going to be well-landscaped,” Atkins said. “Most Wal-Marts are just asphalt and building.”
In addition to retail and grocery sections, the proposed Wal-Mart will include a drive-through pharmacy, tire center and seasonal garden center.
There are also four outparcels that will be sold in front of the store, which could be used as restaurants or smaller retail establishments, Atkins said.
A report from the company said the store will generate $153,000 in real estate taxes, $20,000 in personal property taxes, $1.89 million in state sales taxes, $1.05 million in county sales taxes and $360,000 in grocery sales taxes.
But even what the store will add in terms of taxes and jobs doesn’t justify it in the eyes of some.
Joe Turbyfill, owner of Turbyfill True Value Hardware on N.C. 16, said he’s worried about what effect it will have on his small business and others.
“It’s going to affect small businesses and put them out of business like it has all over the country,” he said.
“They pay cheap labor and get away with it … If I didn’t even own a business, I can see where Wal-Mart is ruining the country. They are talking about giving the American people jobs. But all they are doing is taking away the good jobs and creating cheap jobs.”
The rezoning application is set to go up for public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 6. The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners and Planning Board will hold the joint hearing in the Commissioners Room of the James W. Warren Citizens Center. If turnout is expected to be large, the meeting could be moved to the auditorium.
Commissioners will have to approve the rezoning application before the plans are official.
Atkins said there could still be some changes to the plan.
“We’re just now getting really into the planning of it,” Atkins said. “There will probably be a few changes.”
by Alice Smith and Amy Wadsworth

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