Walmart, landowner still eyeing U.S. 98 in Lamar County

Walmart, landowner still eyeing U.S. 98 in Lamar County
Plans for Walmart in Lamar Co./Photo credit: Carlson Consulting Engineers, Inc.

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - In February, Walmart representatives asked to table the decision to locate along U.S. 98 in Lamar County, but those plans could soon be resurfacing.

Since March, land owner and Florida businessman Chad Henderson has been working to get residents on board.

"We are taking their ideas into consideration, things like elevation, how the store would look and feel, things such as green space within the parking lot, landscape buffering between the store and the residential community next door," Henderson said.

Henderson has met with members of the Canebrake Home Owners Association and held a pair of meetings in the neighborhood on Monday.

A private Facebook page, "Say no to Big Box Walmart West Hattiesburg on Cole Road" has gained over 1,400 members and even gives residents an avenue to sign a petition against the Walmart store.

"This is nothing that has been recent, this has been an ongoing process," Henderson said.

Henderson added that Walmart has been in a contract for roughly three years and has been working to be a fit in the community.

Potential mayor of the proposed city of Bellevue, John Adcock, said he is opposed to the store.

"I am against having an 180,000 square feet big box directly next door to me, as I think most anybody would be," Adcock said. "It has its place, but right next door to a neighborhood, and the most populated neighborhood in the community at that, it just does not go there."

Henderson added that changes to store hours, lighting in the parking lot, truck delivery times along with other things have been addressed with Walmart officials.

"They have agreed to delivery times, agreed to increase landscaping, and landscape buffering, things that are well above the code," Henderson said. "We are not looking to put tattoo shops, and bait shops, pawn shops, things like that."

Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks are the types of stores that are being targeted to accompany Walmart, according to Henderson.

Adcock added this one of the reasons that he and other citizens are pushing the city of Bellevue.

"Right now that property is not zoned for an 180,000 square foot big box retailer, it is zoned the way that it is for a reason," Adcock said. "You don't go straight from big box type commercial to a neighborhood."

Henderson said they have missed the date to file any paperwork for the September Lamar County Planning Commission meeting, but added there is no set timeline.

"This is something we are going to continue to work at and try to get people on board," Henderson said.