County government to buy more BB&T property, this time at Courthouse Square

Crews removed the BB&T sign from the bank’s Courthouse Square branch March 30. The branch consolidated with BB&T’s other local operations into a new facility on J.K. Powell Boulevard. Photo by Justin Smith

Crews removed the BB&T sign from the bank’s Courthouse Square branch March 30. The branch consolidated with BB&T’s other local operations into a new facility on J.K. Powell Boulevard. Photo by Justin Smith

By: The News Reporter

In a unanimous vote Monday night May 3, the Columbus County Commissioners approved a second purchase from BB&T in recent months, this time obtaining the former Courthouse Square branch as well as the adjacent land owned by Don and Deborah Viets.

The sales were for a combined $660,000 — $600,000 to BB&T and $60,000 for the Viets property.

“I think it’s a purchase of some property that could be very vital to the county, being adjacent to the [Historic] Courthouse in the circle that some of the business is being done in,” Board Chair Ricky Bullard said after the meeting. “The building has a lot of potential for county offices, especially the drive-through.”

Bullard said that the county water department could potentially use the drive-through for customers paying their bills. 

After the vote, County Manager Eddie Madden said that the county is in the process of evaluating the property, but has an idea on how to use it.

“It’ll be used for county purposes. We will likely move some county offices to the facility,” Madden said.

According to county land records, BB&T owns six small tracts of land in the block, all under one acre each. The largest tract contains the former BB&T building itself. The combined tax value for the six lots — including the building — is $723,000. 

The Viets property, an adjacent vacant commercial lot that is also less than an acre, has a tax value of $103,100, according to county records. 

Monday’s board agenda did not include the purchase. The commissioners’ vote came at the end of the meeting following a closed session. 

Less than a month ago, on April 5, the board approved purchasing the 10.49-acre North Whiteville BB&T campus for $1.25 million. Madden previously said that the county plans to put some offices there, and perhaps a county garage. Economic Development Director Gary Lanier said in March that the county could potentially use a portion of the North Campus as a business incubator. 

BB&T moved into its new 100,000-square-foot facility along J.K. Powell Boulevard last month, closing all its other local locations in North Whiteville,  Courthouse Square and along South Madison Street.

COVID-19 cases in tax office

Two confirmed COVID-19 cases among staffers in the Columbus County Tax Administration Office has led to 10 total staffers being quarantined Madden said during the meeting. 

“Some functions of the office could be temporarily affected but the director and staff are making the necessary adjustments to keep the office functioning,” Madden told the board.

Madden said he found out that the positive cases were confirmed Monday afternoon.

Elsewhere in the meeting, the board voted 6-1 to limit commissioner comments at the end of regular meetings to three minutes each, with Commissioners Giles “Buddy” Byrd voting against.

The motion said that the move would align the commissioners’ comments with those of the general public, which are restricted to three minutes. 

In his opposition, Byrd said that members of the public often only speak about one subject but commissioners might have more items that they need to discuss. 

“I oppose it, but that’s OK. I can be one of seven,” Byrd said.

County Attorney Amanda Prince kept time during commissioners’ comments later in the meeting.

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