Opponents say plan is wrong-aid

| 29 Sep 2011 | 09:57

    Milford - The lines have been drawn and the battle over a drugstore expansion in the borough’s historic district has been joined, according to Broad Street neighbor and preservation activist David Lender. Lender says many borough residents are just now beginning to learn about Rite-Aid Corporation’s proposed expansion of its store at Harford and Broad streets. The proposal, detailed in an exclusive Oct. 20 story that ran in the Courier, calls for the demolition of two adjoining 19th century historic structures, at 106 and 110 Broad Street, and the existing 7,000-square-foot Rite Aid at the corner, to accommodate a bigger store, of 11,000 square feet, or more. The new store would provide additional parking and a drive-through pharmacy. The proposal was revealed before the Oct. 16 meeting of the borough architectural review board. At the board meeting, Princeton, N.J. real estate developer Richard Dreher explained the store sizing and reconfiguration of services reflects the corporate direction Rite-Aid plans for all of its 3,400 stores. Board member Don Quick warned the developers that making changes on that corner, which he referred to as “the anchor” of Milford’s historic district, would meet with local opposition. Lender, an investment banker and part-time resident for many years, said Wednesday he had spoken to many people over the past weekend who had not been aware of the proposal. Resident Marie Falotico heard about it. In a letter that appears on page 10 of this paper, she wrote, “... the ‘anchor’ of our historic district would be destroyed by a third rate drug chain. Do we really care about the corporate direction of Rite’Aid’s 3,400 stores?” Lender has set up the preserveMILFORD. org Web site. “There’s a nascent effort underway to organize a cohesive opposition to this plan,” Lender said. The site references the news story and features a “call to action,” to oppose the plan. It cites the work of the Historic Preservation Trust and the Milford Enhancement Committee in restoring and preserving the borough and asks, “Do we really want to go backward because Rite Aid wants a bigger store?” In its reference to the “store plan,” the Web site called Borough Solicitor John Klemeyer’s acting as counsel to the project a “troubling note.” Klemeyer himself announced that role, withdrew from the head table at the meeting, and took no part in the developer’s presentation. Lender said he too plans to retain legal counsel. Officials noted at the October meeting that in terms of approval for the project, the architectural review board would be one of the last stops for the developers. Acting Board Chair Kevin Stroyan warned that the biggest hurdle to be faced would be getting demolition permits, where the borough council would have the final word. The council meets next on Nov. 6. Randolph Gregory, who owns the property at 106 and 110 Broad has declined comment on the project, as has review board chair Beth Kelley, who was out of town in October. “I’ll have a lot to say about it later,” she said last week..