Albemarle approves Goodwill temporary donation center

At its Oct. 2 meeting, Albemarle City Council approved Goodwill Industries’ request for a special use permit to allow a temporary donation center at 814 N.C. Highway 24-27 Bypass East (Albemarle Crossing Shopping Center).

“The request is for permission to locate a mobile trailer to accept donations. It will be located at the site at which a permanent store will be opening,” said Planning and Development Services Director Kevin Robinson in summarizing Goodwill’s application to the council.

A Goodwill Industries employee will attend the trailer during operating hours, which will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, explained Stephanie Hoffman, real estate manager for Goodwill, who was in attendance along with Amy Jordan, the firm’s vice president of development and facilities.

Opening of a donation center as a precursor to the grand opening of a new store is a standard procedure, according to Hoffman.

“By having our donation center attended, it gives us an opportunity to meet face-to-face with our customers before the permanent store opens,” Hoffman said.

In response to concerns about appearance, Hoffman cited experiences at other donation centers.

“We’ve had no problems in the past at our donation centers,” said Hoffman. “By having an attendant present daily, we are able to make sure the area does not become unsightly.”

Councilman Bill Aldridge asked about the opening of the permanent store, as well as whether employees would be hired locally or brought in from Goodwill’s Charlotte headquarters.

“Our time frame for opening is in February 2024,” said Jordan, adding that “construction is well underway.”

Jordan noted that employees would be hired “from the Albemarle area.”

“Our staff here will be around 25 individuals,” she said, adding that a job fair will be conducted “about a month” prior to the facility’s opening.

Two representatives of Stanly Community Christian Ministry expressed concerns with Goodwill’s effect on the organization’s operations.

Executive Director Heather Kilde gave a brief summary of SCCM’s impact in the community, and noted that “60-plus percent” of SCCM’s operating budget comes from the organization’s clothing closet on East Main Street.

“Goodwill will deliver a substantial hit on the donations we receive,” she said.

SCCM Board Member Doug Hume expressed similar concerns.

“I didn’t see any statement of a need being met by Goodwill,” he said. “We (SCCM) are meeting needs, and provided $1.3 million in services to the community last year. We don’t believe this is necessary, we don’t believe it meets any needs, and it will detract from the services we are providing.”

During discussion, the council agreed on an added condition that should opening of the permanent facility be delayed, the donation center would be removed after 12 months, or when the facility opens, whichever comes first.

Upon a motion by Councilman Chris Bramlett and a second by Councilman Benton Dry, the board voted 4-1 to approve the special use permit. Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Sue Hall cast the lone dissenting vote. Councilman David Hunt recused himself from the vote, and Councilman Dexter Townsend was absent from the meeting.

In other matters:

● A public hearing was set for Nov. 6 on extending utilities to the Long Lake area, for which an annexation petition had been denied in September.

● Council meetings in January 2024 were reset from Jan. 1 and 15 to Jan. 8 and 22 to work around the New Year and Martin Luther King Jr. holidays.

● An unveiling ceremony for the new street name Bishop J.E. Richardson Drive will be conducted at 1:30 p.m. Sunday near Union Chapel AME Zion Church.

● Public Utilities Director Jay Voyles recognized the city’s Electric Division employees in announcing Public Power Week.

The next meeting of Albemarle City Council will take place on Oct. 16 at 6:30 p.m.