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Council considers Wal-Mart request

DEMOPOLIS – City council members will decide the fate of a request rezone a parcel of land on U.S. Highway 80 West to accommodate a new Wal-Mart Supercenter.

In June, the Demopolis Planning Commission voted to recommend the rezoning from residential to commercial, a little more than 20 acres of land near Demopolis High School, and just behind a string of businesses including Mr. G’s Restaurant and Smokin’ Jack’s Bar-b-que.

Due to public notification requirements, Thursday’s council meeting is the first opportunity the council will have to officially consider the rezoning request.

In a series of meetings, first with the planning commission and engineers designing the Supercenter project, and later with a Wal-Mart attorney, landowners adjacent to the property, owned by Bryan Whitfield Compton, said they wanted access to the Supercenter’s access drive.

Jackson, Miss., attorney Ben Cannada listened to the property owners’ request and told them he would voice those requests to company officials.

Even with a touch of controversy, Mayor Austin Caldwell believes the project will move forward.

“My feeling was that when the meeting was over, (the property owners) wanted it to come even if they couldn’t get the concessions,” Caldwell said. “I feel like the council has the same understanding from the people who were there – they would like the concessions if they could get them, but still wanted (Wal-Mart) to come.”

While Caldwell wouldn’t speculate as to the council’s actions Thursday night, Compton said landing the Supercenter was a big plus for the city.

“The big thing, I think, for the city a big tax increase, and of course, that’s what the city is interested in. That’s not a question, it will give the city more money,” he said.

“It hurts Demopolis when people go out of town to shop and the sales tax generated (from a Supercenter) is quite significant,” Compton said. “I think we’re going to get a Wal-Mart.”