CAMDEN, NJ—The city planning board voted Thursday night for the conditional, preliminary approval of a fifth Family Dollar store to be built in Camden.
It was the fourth time the applicant, 617 Broadway LLC, a subsidiary of Paramount Assets, LLC, appeared before the planning board since January of this year for preliminary approval of the project.
It is proposing to build an approximately 8,217 square feet Family Dollar retail store at 613 to 617 Broadway — the corner of Broadway and Line Street. The applicant was represented by attorney Jeffrey Barron and Joseph Allesso, director of development for Paramount Assets, LLC.
Its most recent appearance was on May 12, where after public testimony raised concerns over parking and how a tractor-trailer would make deliveries to the store, the board voted to carry the application to its Aug. 9 meeting to allow for the applicant to test a truck delivery route and the infrastructure of Line Street.
According to Barron, they were unable to arrange a time with the city to close down Line Street for the necessary tests before Thursday’s meeting. Instead, Barron proposed conditional approval based upon the applicant acquiring two neighboring lots — Block 212, lots 79 and 80.
The lots, said Barron, are both under tax foreclosure with tax liens held by the city. Barron said that by purchasing the lots from the city, it would allow the tractor trailer to pull into the proposed Family Dollar parking lot from Line Street and exit onto William Street. The two lots will also provide more parking spaces than previously proposed 12. According to the city ordinance, 43 spaces are required, which Barron said the applicant would still need a variance for despite the addition of more spaces.
With the conditional preliminary approval awarded, the applicant must now purchase the lots, and appear before the planning board again for preliminary and final site plan approval. According to planning board attorney James Burns, they will be required to present a new site plan that shows the additional parking spaces and the new truck delivery route, along with inspecting the infrastructure underneath Line Street.
The project has not been met with open arms by the neighborhood. At the May 12 meeting, many residents questioned the need for another Family Dollar in Camden.
“I could appreciate a real grocery store,” resident Stacey Pierce said in May. Yaritza Santana agreed.
“We are in a food desert,” she said at the May meeting.
On Thursday, Burns again addressed those concerns, saying that what the project is proposing is a permitted use in the zone the site is located.
“We can’t discriminate as to who may want to come to the site. The use that they are proposing is permitted, and we can’t say you, Family Dollar, can’t come here because we have too many Family Dollars,” Burns said.
At previous meetings, other concerns were also raised. The material and architecture of the building was changed in response to a concern that the then-proposed building would not fit in with the neighborhood. Allesso said on May 2 he met with community members as well, and the additional land had been purchased to provide more parking spaces.
Other Family Dollar Retail Stores are located along Mt. Ephriam Avenue, Haddon Avenue, Marlton Pike and N. 8th Street.