Nearly a dozen people attended a public hearing Tuesday in Hamlet to voice support and concerns about a proposed convenience store whose owners had planned to sell alcohol.
In the end, the Hamlet City Council approved the needed rezoning, but the approval comes with restrictions which will prohibit the sale of alcohol.
The request was to rezone two parcels of land, owned by Carroll Blakely and Cynda Blakely, located on Bridges Street from Light Industry to Neighborhood Business.
Mary McLaurin, who lives near the property, said the community needs a convenience store type business but not one that sells alcohol. She said the area doesn’t need anything that will promote crime. McLaurin also said she is concerned about heavy traffic that could result from the store.
Amanda Tinley was in favor of the convenience store. She said the store selling alcohol wouldn’t contribute to crime in the area. She pointed out that a lot of residents in the community need a store within walking distance of their house. Gloria Malachi told the council that it is a “… good idea to allow the business.”
Merrielle Buckner, who works for the Small Business Center at Richmond Community College and also with the GATE Program (Growing America Through Entrepreneurship), said she has worked with the Blakely’s on researching the needs of the community. She said she is proud of Carroll Blakely and she supports the business.
After the residents voiced their support and concerns, Carroll stood up and addressed the council, telling them there would be no alcohol consumed on the property. She also said the store will accept Women, Infant and Children (WIC) vouchers and Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) transactions. Carroll said the store will sell cigarettes, snack foods and drinks.
She also brought a petition that she said contained 140 signatures from residents around the proposed store site who are in favor of the store.
She said, if approved, it would take her three months to open the store after she does major upgrades including painting, tile work and outside lighting installation.
Councilwoman Abbie Covington said that neighborhood is in “… obvious need of a convenience store … ,” but wanted Carroll to look at the possible financial aspect of a store that doesn’t sell alcohol.
Mayor Pro Tem Tony Clewis said while the convenience store is a necessity, alcohol sales are not.
“I think it will stall the economic progress in that area,” Buckner said after the vote.
Councilman Jonathan Buie said that while the convenience store is a nice idea, the business would be near a park, where children play, and would also make the opportunity for minors to consume alcohol greater. “When you put it in the middle (of the community), you’re giving them the option,” he said.
In other matters, the City Council:
• Approved a resolution designating April 2013 as Purple Ribbon Month in support of Relay for Life. Ron Mayo, who is actively involved with Relay for Life, gave council members purple ribbons.
• Approved a resolution to lower the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph along the portion of Highway 177 South located between Walnut Avenue and Airport Road. Once signed, the resolution will be sent to the North Carolina Department of Transportation office in Raleigh for consideration.
• Approved Governor Pat McCrory’s 2013 Spring Litter Sweep Proclamation. The proclamation said, “… the Spring Litter Sweep cleanup will celebrate its 25th anniversary of the North Carolina Adopt-A-Highway program and its 4,400 volunteer groups who donate their labor and time year-round to keep our roadsides clean.” Litter pick up dates will be April 13-27.
• Approved a proclamation recognizing that CSX Transportation has maintained a positive working relationship with the City of Hamlet and “… has contributed to the local quality of life through corporate and employee community service … ,” the proclamation said.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.