Rhawnhurst Civic rejects proposed grocery store

A landlord’s effort to open a grocery store inside a twin house on Bustleton Avenue ran into a roadblock on Jan. 27 as members of the Rhawnhurst Civic Association voted unanimously to oppose the plan.

City Councilman Brian O’Neill agreed with the neighbors’ assessment of the idea, warning the property owner that his application probably has two chances to win approval from the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment — slim and none.

Kalpesh Mandlia is the owner of 8597 Bustleton Ave. In brief comments to about 20 residents during the monthly civic meeting at Pelbano Recreation Center, Mandlia stated that he hopes to sell pre-packaged foods, beverages, groceries, lottery tickets and other items from the property. He would not sell prepared food, hot or cold.

The house is a corner twin that neighbors say formerly served as a doctor’s home office. The adjoining house still is a medical office, online photographs show. Traditionally, the zoning code has permitted doctors to practice from their own homes without special zoning relief. But commercial uses like grocery stores are not allowed in homes as a matter of right.

O’Neill said that Mandlia would likely have to demonstrate to the zoning board that the property can no longer be used for its intended use, a residence.

“You’re wasting your time,” O’Neill said. “You have to prove that the house can’t be used as a house. The facts (to demonstrate that) aren’t there.”

One woman neighbor said that the community is already well-served by grocery stores. Another neighbor said that he would be concerned that the business would attract trash and pests.

RCA President Scott Mulvey polled meeting-goers in a show of hands. There were no votes of support. Mulvey said he would send a letter of opposition to the zoning board on behalf of the civic group. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 9, at 5 p.m., at 1515 Arch St.

In an unrelated zoning case, the civic association plans to hear a presentation from the owner of a gas station at 7300 Roosevelt Blvd. at the group’s next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m. at Pelbano Recreation Center, Bustleton and Solly avenues. The business owner proposes to add check cashing services on the property. ••