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Video Sweepstakes opens on US 701 South

By Erin Smith

A sweepstakes establishment has opened it doors on US 701 South in the former location of Woodies Grill. The establishment is also within 500 feet of a childcare facility which is a violation of county ordinances. 

Bladen County Planner Greg Elkins said he has issued a notice of violation to the business owner, Steve Lovin who is from Robeson County. 

“We are addressing that now with our County Attorney (Allen Johnson),” said Elkins. He added Lovin has 30 days from the notice of violation to close the establishment.

He said Lovin appeared at the Bladen County Planning Board meeting where he was advised of his options. Lovin’s options include closing the business, appealing the violation to the Bladen County Board of Adjustment and if he is still not satisfied, he can appeal to the Superior Court of North Carolina. 

The business, 701 Sweepstakes, is located where a truck stop/restaurant once stood. The sign on the roof of the building still trumpets Woodie’s Grill and Bar-B-Que. Not more than 500 feet from the business is a residential neighborhood, the Growing Footprints Child Care center, and Cromartie Enterprises. 

County ordinances which can be reviewed online by the public indicate that a sweepstakes business must obtain a special use permit in order to operate. The Appendix A Zoning Section 13.19 Section 7 of the Bladen County Ordinances states the special use permit must be approved by the Bladen County Planning Board. Elkins said Lovin told him he was not aware he needed a permit to operate. 

The county’s ordinance also stipulates Rules of Operation and Other requirements. The ordinances state the establishment must receive prior approval form the Bladen County Fire Marshal to open. Specifically, the ordinance reads, “Approval shall be obtained from the Bladen County Fire Marshal prior to occupancy and must comply with annual review standards.” 

Bladen County Fire Marshal Kenneth Clark said he can find no record where Lovin ever contacted the fire marshal’s office for an inspection prior to the establishment opening. 

“I’m the one that brought it to the attention of Greg Elkins,” said Clark. 

Clark said the establishment is within 300 feet of a day care facility.

Elkins said he is waiting to hear from Lovin regarding what he plans to do next. 

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