SWANSBORO, ONSLOW COUNTY - A developer who wants to build a Walmart Supercenter filed a civil lawsuit against the Town of Swansboro. The developer, Swansboro Investors LLC, filed a complaint against the town on June 30.
Wednesday, a hearing was held in Onslow County Superior Court. A ruling in this case will potentially determine whether this Walmart can be built or if the town's current ban on large structures will stand.
Walmart's construction in the town has been up for debate the past two months, with several public hearings on large retailers building in Swansboro.
Swansboro resident, Lisa Callans said she thinks building a Walmart would benefit the town and that tourists will continue to shop at small local shops.
"It's going to create more jobs and people are not going to have to go so far to get lower prices," Callans said.
Tiffany McCawley has lived in Swansboro for about five years. She said it's important to shop locally and support small businesses.
"This is a small town built on small businesses. It has been that way since its inception and to change the character of that would drastically change our town and how vibrant it is," McCawley said.
Swansboro Investors LLC is trying to develop a Walmart Supercenter but there's currently a 90 day moratorium in the town preventing any new construction of buildings over 40,000 sq. feet.
The Walmart would be built in a 20-acre lot near N.C. 24 down the road from Swansboro High School. It would be about two miles from Swansboro's historic downtown.
Despite that distance, the area is still within the town's jurisdiction.
Now, a complaint has been filed against the town because Swansboro Investors LLC believes the moratorium was put in place to delay their project.
Town Manager David Harvell said the Board of Commissioners first proposed this moratorium when they heard a large retailer wanted to come to the town -- not specifically Walmart.
"It actually provides a level of comfort for everyone in the town to say yes we would like to have x number of this size facility or not," Harvell said.
He said the developers didn't put in their application for a permit with the town until after the proposed moratorium had been announced.
Court documents show the developers argue that they already secured several other permits and that the moratorium should not apply to them.
Harvell tells NewsChannel 12 that the judge on the case hopes to have a ruling on this civil lawsuit on Monday.
A final public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, July 15th at Town Hall. The moratorium ends on august 18th.