VINELAND – A rumor that federally subsidized housing might be in the future for a commercial property off South Main and Magnolia roads added time and tension to a hearing before city planning officials last week.
Attorney Michael Gruccio, representing the owner, both brought up the topic and then testified there is no truth to it. The resulting Planning Board decision was to approve his request to split the property at 1470 South Main Road into two, unequally sized lots.
Property tax records show LTD Investment Properties GP Inc. of Manahawkin owns a total of 10 acres there. The property hosts an existing Dollar General store and a long-vacant medical facility built for Eastlantic Diagnostic Institute & Garden State MRI.
“Now, at the risk of sounding insensitive, but I think I have to put it out there, my office received a call questioning whether or not Section 8 housing — not my language, not my characterization, I’m just repeating it to the board — that Section 8 housing was going to go in on the premises of the remainder parcel,” Gruccio said at the outset of the Sept. 14 board hearing.
“In other words, the parcel that presently accommodates the MRI lot,” Gruccio said. “I don’t know where the information came from. It didn’t emanate from this applicant.”
Giving substance to his statement, a Magnolia Road resident questioned the attorney and board for assurances housing was not envisioned and could not be under existing zoning. The property is in an area zoned for business uses only.
Board Chairman David Manders responded that the hearing’s sole purpose was to decide whether to separate the Dollar General into its own lot.
City Supervising Planner Kathie Hicks told the woman another project, not classified as a business use, first would need permission from the Zoning Board. And residents would be notified in advance of any such hearing, she said.
Other than housing, owners of nearby homes questioned the impact on traffic, that they said already is problematic; whether sufficient parking would be available for the Dollar General; and what one woman said was much-needed maintenance on the property.
Gruccio agreed traffic in the area can be difficult.
“But as the chair correctly and accurately pointed out, the subdivision doesn’t implicate traffic concerns,” Gruccio said. “And to add another comment with respect to traffic, Main Road is a county road.”
City planners approved the Dollar General store in June 2015. At the time, there was testimony that the 10-acre lot was large enough to hold four or five commercial buildings.
The Eastlantic Diagnostic building is 10,200 square feet and located deeper into the property. It opened in November 2002 and closed in November 2008.
Voting for the subdivision were Manders, Vice Chair Michael Pantalione, and members John Casadia, Councilman David Acosta, Robert Odorizzi, Doug Menz, Sandy Velez, and David Catalana.
Joe Smith is a N.E. Philly native transplanted to South Jersey more than 30 years ago, keeping an eye now on government in South Jersey. He is a former editor and current senior staff writer for The Daily Journal in Vineland, Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, and the Burlington County Times.
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