07/11/06 — Wal-Mart starts work at new site in Mount Olive

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Wal-Mart starts work at new site in Mount Olive

By Turner Walston
Published in News on July 11, 2006 1:55 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Wal-Mart will soon begin construction of a new store on the northwest side of Mount Olive, Town Manager Charles Brown told members of the town council Monday night.

Wal-Mart has not officially announced it plans to build a store on the tract of land off N.C. 55, but company officials have said they are interested in serving the area and permits to start grading work for a major retail outlet have been issued.

Brown said Monday night that the construction superintendent for Wal-Mart and his staff were in the area and looking for places to live while the store is being constructed. He said he expects construction to begin in earnest in two to three weeks.

He added that several retail stores and restaurants have inquired about the proposed Wal-Mart property.

"I think you'll see your shopping and dining options improve dramatically in the next year," he said.

According to Wal-Mart's Web site, the company plans to build 370 new stores in the U.S. this year. Wal-Mart currently operates more than 5,400 stores and clubs worldwide.

In other business, the town board will revisit a decision to deny a request to permit an adult day-care facility on Center Street.

A request by Donald Atkinson of White Oak Homes to operate a facility on Center Street was denied last month. Atkinson was not at the June meeting but was present Monday night. He told the board that the adult day care program for mentally handicapped adults primarily consists of custodial care. The facility would promote resource development and community access assistance for mentally-handicapped consumers, he said, and serve as "a base to access community resources," for clients to seek employment and access health and fitness facilities.

White Oak Homes operates 20 mental health facilities in Wayne, Sampson, Duplin and Lenoir counties.

"The facility we're talking about is skills development, skills training," said Lisa Atkinson. "Integrating those people into a more community-based setting."

Mrs. Atkinson said the White Oak Homes consumers do not currently qualify for vocational rehabilitation.

"They need extra support," she said.

Town Attorney Carroll Turner told Atkinson his explanation was clearer than the presentation given on behalf of the company by another spokesman at the previous meeting.

Mayor Ruff Huggins told Atkinson he would be notified of a decision "in just a few days."

"We had some misunderstanding between his request and what the planning board and the town were expecting, and we were just trying to clarify all that," Huggins said.

"If his request can be qualified under the current zoning ordinance, then the zoning officer will just issue him a permit," Huggins said. "We've got to do some more research on it first."

After hearing Atkinson's explanation, Huggins said the town's zoning ordinance might not need to be modified for the request.

"Our ordinance is a little bit broad when it comes to permitting medical facilities in the downtown business area. It'll probably be that's where we'll have to try to fit it if we can."

Also at Monday's meeting, Mayor Ruff Huggins and commissioners presented former Town Manager Ray McDonald with a resolution honoring him. McDonald retired in May after seven years as manager. He also served Mount Olive as a town commissioner, mayor and county commissioner.

McDonald thanked the town officials, and said they had an "awesome responsibility."

"When you go to bed at night, lay our head down and know you've done your very best, that's when you really have done the best that you could do," he said.