Somerton Civic hears from candidates, votes against proposed pawn shop

The Somerton Civic Association on Oct. 9 heard from a couple of candidates and voted unanimously against an application for a pawn shop on Bustleton Avenue.

Democrat Mike Doyle, who is challenging State Rep. Martina White in the 170th district, speaks to residents Tuesday, Oct. 9 at the Somerton Civic Association meeting. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

The Somerton Civic Association on Oct. 9 heard from two challengers in the upcoming Nov. 9 election and voted unanimously against a zoning application for a pawn shop on Bustleton Avenue.

North Philadelphia resident David Torres, a Republican candidate running against U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle in the 2nd Congressional District, told residents that bringing back industrial jobs and addressing the opioid epidemic are two of his biggest concerns.

“In the last few years, it’s been breaking my heart what’s happening in the city,” Torres said. “We’ve lost so many jobs and so many factories.”

Torres, a heavy underdog in the race, said he would like to attract investors to the area to create stable, good-paying jobs.

“I’m not a politician,” he said. “I’m a business person.”

Congressional hopeful David Torres speaks to residents Tuesday, Oct. 9 at the Somerton Civic Association meeting. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

State House candidate Mike Doyle, a Democrat who is challenging incumbent Martina White in the 170th district, also spoke at the civic association meeting. He started off by acknowledging White’s popularity.

“A lot of people here love Martina,” Doyle said. “She’s done a very good job for the residents of Somerton, Parkwood and the 170th.”

Doyle said he is running because he wants more to be done to address the opioid crisis. He’s been sober for nearly five years after struggling with alcohol and drug abuse.

“Our families are dying,” Doyle said. “Our children are dying.”

A representative from White’s office said she was unable to attend. Somerton Civic Association President Chris Bordelon said all candidates from both races were invited to speak at the meeting.

In other news from the Oct. 9 meeting, civic association members voted overwhelmingly to oppose a permit for a proposed pawn shop in a strip mall at 14250 Bustleton Ave.

Alan Nochumson, a lawyer representing the applicant, argued that the business, called The Trading Post, is not a pawn shop. Rather, he said, it would be a resale business where the store buys items from the public and sells them to others.

The shop would not be offering loans in exchange for collateral in the form of valuables, Nochumson and the business owner, Joshua Toledano, told residents.

Residents at the meeting didn’t buy the explanation and said they were concerned the shop’s patrons would bring stolen items to the store. Others said they were worried the store would attract shady customers or could use the permit to operate a pawn shop under a subsequent owner.

Toledano said he participates in a national online database that is monitored by law enforcement for stolen items. He also said he would hold on to products for 30 days before selling them to customers.

Nochumson suggested the civic association approve the application with provisos or conditions. Residents worried the conditions would not stick or be difficult to enforce.

“What can I do? Is there anything that I could do?” Toledano said near the end of a lengthy discussion on the topic. Several residents responded by saying “nothing.”

In the end, all of the roughly 80 residents in attendance voted against Toledano’s application. The Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled to hear the case Nov. 7.

Also during the Oct. 9 meeting, residents were updated on an unrelated zoning matter at 11410 Bustleton Ave. The ZBA approved a variance for a podiatrist office on the property and stipulated that the parking not lot be expanded and the signage not be altered.

As reported by the Times, the topic was discussed at length during the civic association’s Sept. 11 meeting. Residents voted 32–12 against the application, mainly over concerns about the parking lot being widened.

Bordelon said the parking issue at the property may come up again at a future meeting.

The Somerton Civic Association’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the Walker Lodge, 1290 Southampton Road. The guest speaker will be 7th District Police Capt. Robert Ritchie. ••

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at jtomczuk@newspapermediagroup.com