10/10/06 — Mount Olive eyes plans for growth

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Mount Olive eyes plans for growth

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on October 10, 2006 1:49 PM

Mount Olive has fewer than 5,000 residents, but the town is growing, officials say, and while growth is good they want to make sure they have an adequate strategy in place to manage it.

Already, they believe, their town is on the cusp of a development boom.

In recent weeks, ground has been broken on additions to the town's wastewater treatment plant, Hilex Poly committed to a multi-million dollar expansion and construction on a Wal-Mart Supercenter began, with completion scheduled for April 2007.

"I think we've been heading toward a boom for a year or two already. We're anticipating we'll experience right much growth," Mayor Ruff Huggins said.

Much of that growth is being directed along N.C. 55 west, where Wal-Mart is being built.

"It's basically a magnet," Brown said. "We've already seen a lot of activity around the Wal-Mart site. There's a tremendous amount of interest from developers and real estate brokers in that area."

The town's industrial park on the old Mount Olive Highway also is in the middle of a growth spurt.

Currently, the 90-acre facility holds five industries, and Brown said, there's room for more.

"There's quite a bit of interest in all that property," Huggins said, noting the town's strategic location near U.S. 40 and at the intersection of the new N.C. 117 bypass and N.C. 55, as well as the planned sewer expansion. "The availability of infrastructure has a lot to do with it."

Huggins also said that he anticipates Mount Olive College playing an even larger role in community in the coming years.

"They bring a tremendous amount of people into Mount Olive every day," he said. "The college is a big part of Mount Olive."

And of course, with new business and industrial growth, will come the need for housing.

"We're looking at several different things. We've identified several properties and we're talking with some developers because we'll need some residential development in town. That's going to be a necessity as we go along," Brown said.

But such growth does require planning. That is why the town is currently working to update its land use plan.

The last revision was in 1993.

"It's in need of updating," Brown said. "With the growth we're anticipating, we want to be sure we have the infrastructure to handle it."

The plan will focus on things such as police and fire service, water and sewer, garbage pickup and recreation.

To help make sure town residents take an active part in developing this new plan, a citizen survey will be mailed to all utility customers in the coming weeks.

"We want to see if the town is living up to their expectations and if not, where we're falling short," Brown said.

But they also want to know what people want Mount Olive to look like in the years to come.

"I think it's good to know how people feel about their town," Huggins said, because in a community like Mount Olive, the planning for the future goes beyond infrastructure needs.

"We want to be sure that as we grow, we maintain our small-town quality of life. I think that's extremely important," Brown said. "I think we will find that once these surveys are returned, it will be a very high priority."