BURGAW, NC (WECT) – Cheers followed a unanimous recommendation by the Burgaw Planning Board for a Walmart in the Pender County town.
So many people showed up for the meeting Thursday night that some had to wait outside because the room had reached its 60 person capacity.
Johnny Stringfield said he's been coming to town meetings for years and this was the largest planning event he's seen in that time. Before the comment period for the project ended, Stringfield said he looks forward to the jobs and economic development that'll come with the new store.
He said the new business will keep shoppers, who would normally drive elsewhere to spend their money, in the town of Burgaw.
"Walmart will make a difference here in Pender County," he said.
Though it will be less than half the size of a typical Super Center, the store planned for Burgaw will create close to 150 jobs, according to company representatives.
They said the new business will be 600 feet away from the nearest front door of any home. It's planned location is Highway 53, outside of the downtown area.
John Westbrook, who spoke against the project, said he's worried the store will pull future economic interests from downtown and focus them near Walmart.
"I'm for development, but I'm also for stability," he said. Burgaw is a beautiful, beautiful town, and we're going to lose it."
When Westbrook told a packed crowd about his concerns for a downtown area that's dying, he could not believe their response.
"Someone said downtown Burgaw is dying anyway, and then people clapped," said Westbrook. "How is that supposed to make me feel?"
"Burgaw is already dead," said Stringfield. "It's not dying, it's already dead."
Before any ground is broken, town commissioners need to approve the plan as well.
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