Northeast residents may appeal Pep Boys' superstore approval

February 05, 1997|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Community groups are considering filing a zoning appeal to prevent construction of a large Pep Boys store at Harford and Moravia roads.

Communities Organized for Responsible Development (CORD), Harford Road Partnership (HARP) and other neighborhood associations opposed development of the Pep Boys store at a Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals meeting Jan. 28, but the board approved a conditional-use permit for the project on a 5-0 vote. The permit is necessary because of the proposed size of the superstore, which would include 12 garage bays.

Patty Mackin, one of CORE's organizers, said the group would speak with a lawyer within two weeks. She said the group is concerned with the size of the store, traffic implications and the store's impact on future development in the area.

"We are meeting to decide what options we have available," Mackin said. "We'll make a decision based on that. Our goal is to rally the neighbors to become more pro-active in deciding which businesses we'd like to have in our neighborhood."

Bill Furtkevic, a representative of Pep Boys, said the 19,500-square-foot store would open this fall and could contribute up to $3.5 million to the area economy in the next 10 years. Furtkevic said it would employ 30 to 40 people.

Marian Gillis, executive director of HARP, said on that site she would like to see five or six retail and food stores instead of one large Pep Boys. "This is not a business we pursued," Gillis said. "They found us, we didn't find them. We don't believe this is the best use for this site.

"We don't have a lot of places to shop around here. We could have put about six businesses in there, to provide more jobs and pay taxes, rather than just one big store."

Gillis said she spoke with the developer of the property several times in the past 18 months and tried to recruit businesses to locate there, but her proposals were turned away.

"We met with marketing people and came up with a design and marketing strategy for the building, but when we went back to the developer he said he'd already signed a lease agreement" with Pep Boys, Gillis said.

The developer, Len Weinberg of Vanguard Equities, declined to comment.

Pub Date: 2/05/97

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