ZBA approves plans for supermarket at Chew and Washington

Plans for a Bottom Dollar Food store on Washington Lane are moving forward with zoning board approval.

As expected, the board voted Wednesday to approve a variance that will allow developer Richard L. Soloff to build an 18,000 square-foot store on seven parcels located at the corner of Washington Lane and Chew Ave.

The store will be wholly owned and operated by Bottom Dollar Food, a division of the Food Lion supermarket chain, which has a $1.7 million agreement of sale to buy the properties from Penn GMT Corp.

Soloff needed a use variance to build the store and 62 parking spots because some of the lots are zoned for commercial uses and others for residential in an area abutted by East Germantown and East Mt. Airy.

Councilmanic and civic-group support, neighbor opposition

The plan went before the board with letters of approval from several local civic groups representing the area and the strong support of Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, but a couple who lives and works nearby voiced a string of issues about the site’s safety.

Raymond Wood and Rosalind Plummer, who live on Washington Lane, called the site “toxic.” They said they were concerned about oil and runoff from a former oil company facility once located adjacent to the site.

Project attorney Peter Kelsen said there was no evidence of that, and noted that the developer’s stormwater plan had approval from the Philadelphia Water Department.

“We are not aware, frankly, of any runoff that is coming onto this site,” he said.

The couple, who are property developers, jazz aficionados and community activists, said there wasn’t adequate notice of the plans for the store, and said they were wary of an out-of-town chain store setting up shop on the busy corner.

The store will face Washington Lane, with access to the 54,500 square-foot site from both streets. The building will have flat wall signs, and a 20-foot-tall freestanding pylon sign.

NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com.

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