Vineland landlord has no plan for Section 8 housing

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VINELAND — A rumor that federally subsidized housing could be in the future for commercial property off South Main and Magnolia roads has added time and tension to a hearing before city planning officials the last week.

Attorney Michael Gruccio, representing the landlord, both broached the subject and then testified that there was no truth to it. The resulting planning board decision was to approve his application to divide the property at 1470 South Main Road into two lots of unequal size.

Property tax records show LTD Investment Properties GP Inc. of Manahawkin owns a total of 10 acres at this location. The property houses 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 say, my office got a call asking whether or not Section 8 housing – not my language, not my characterization, I’m just repeating it to council – that the Section 8 accommodations were going to move into the remaining plot premises,” Gruccio said at the start of the September 14 council hearing.

“In other words, the package that currently hosts the MRI batch,” Gruccio said. “I don’t know where the information comes from. It did not come from this candidate.

Giving substance to his statement, a resident of Magnolia Road questioned the solicitor and council to ensure the accommodation was not being considered and could not be under existing zoning. The property is in a business-only area.

Board Chairman David Manders responded that the sole purpose of the hearing was to decide whether to split the Dollar General into its own lot.

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The town’s chief planner, Kathie Hicks, told the woman that another project, not classed as commercial use, would first need permission from the zoning board. And residents would be notified in advance of such a hearing, she said.

Apart from the accommodation, the owners of the neighboring houses have questioned the impact on traffic, which they say is already problematic; whether sufficient parking would be available for the Dollar General; and what a woman said was much needed maintenance on the property.

The Vineland Planning Board held a contentious hearing on September 14, 2022 for a proposed 1470 South Main Road subdivision.  The board eventually approved the creation of new land for a Dollar General store, separating it from a closed medical imaging building.  Residents had concerns arising from a housing project, traffic and maintenance of the property.  Here, a local resident questions the council.  Attorney Michael Gruccio, representing the owner, listens.  September 14, 2022.

Gruccio agreed that traffic in the area can be difficult.

“But as the president correctly and accurately pointed out, the subdivision does not involve traffic problems,” Gruccio said. “And to add another traffic comment, Main Road is a county road.”

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City planners approved the Dollar General store in June 2015. At the time, there were reports that the 10-acre lot was large enough to hold four or five commercial buildings.

View from South Main Street in Vineland of a 10-acre lot containing a Dollar General Store and (back left) the former Eastlantic Diagnostic Institute & Garden State MRI.  On September 14, 2022, the city's planning board approved subdividing the Dollar General into its own lot at 1470 S. Main Road.  Photo/Sept.  16, 2022.

The Eastlantic Diagnostic building measures 10,200 square feet and is located deeper within the property. It opened in November 2002 and closed in November 2008.

Manders, Vice President Michael Pantalione and Members John Casadia, Councilman David Acosta, Robert Odorizzi, Doug Menz, Sandy Velez and David Catalana voted for the subdivision.

Joe Smith is a NE Philly native transplanted to South Jersey over 30 years ago, now keeping tabs on the South Jersey government. He is a former and current senior editor of the Daily Journal in Vineland, the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, and the Burlington County Times.

Do you have any advice? Contactjsmith@thedailyjournal.com. Help support local journalism with a subscription.

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