Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

former zoning board member

Goodwill Industries Gets Conditional OK To Build In Cinnaminson
The decision came amid multiple concerns that were voiced by zoning board members and the public.

 

An artist rendering of what the front of the completed Goodwill Donation Center in Cinnaminson will look like.
An artist rendering of what the front of the completed Goodwill Donation Center in Cinnaminson will look like. (Photo Courtesy Of Janel Miller, Patch)
CINNAMINSON, NJ – The Cinnaminson Zoning Board granted Goodwill Industries a zoning variance and approved the organization’s site plans Wednesday, moving the organization one step closer to building a donation center at the intersection of Riverton Road and U.S. Route 130.

The variance was granted and approvals were made on many conditions which originated from community residents’ and zoning board members’ concerns.

For example, the zoning board chair noted how the township giving up a prime piece of real estate where no on-site sales occur.

“It’s not really a commercial enterprise, in the sense that there’s no commerce that’s going to go on,” said John J. Bednarek, zoning board chair. “It’s more akin to recycling centers, which we do have in the town … in the industrial areas, not in the main quarter of our town.

Goodwill Industries’ attorney concurred with the first part of Bednarek’s observation but added that sales of the donated items would ultimately happen elsewhere and

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“People drop something off. That’s a commercial exchange. [Goodwill] takes the product, they take it to a sales center and then they sell it as a business operation,” Goodwill Industries’ attorney James Burns said. “The sales price generates the income so that they provide job training for people with disabilities and disadvantaged people. This [donation center] is just a piece of it, but it’s an integral piece of it.”

Another zoning board member expressed doubt that Goodwill Industries’ predictions of 50 customers each day Monday through Friday and 100 customers on Saturdays and Sundays was accurate.

“I’m skeptical that the size of that location is going to be able to handle all the traffic,” John Neely, that zoning board member, said. “You’re seriously underestimating the number of cars and traffic.”

An engineer for Goodwill Industries countered by comparing the amount of traffic – or intensity – the Cinnaminson location will likely get compared with a restaurant or retail shop.

“The intensity rate of Goodwill will be much lower than you would get if this were some restaurant or some retail facility that was drawing patrons in on a regular basis,” said Andrew Feranda, that engineer.

Regarding other concerns such as landscaping, lighting and installing security cameras to increase the likelihood donations are not dropped off when the donation center is closed, various parties at the zoning board meeting on behalf of Goodwill promised that the organization would do its best to keep the fruition of those concerns to a minimum if not alleviate them altogether.

A resident mentioned concerns from the type of vehicles and items that Goodwill Industries uses to pick up donations and place donations in when they are dropped off.

“I have a picture here [from the Goodwill in Medford] on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.,”

Robert Hare, that resident and former zoning board member, said as he displayed a photograph with what looked to be an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer parked outside a building. “We heard testimony that [Goodwill] only does box trucks.”

Hare also showed pictures that showed what appeared to be storage facilities outside the building, de-beautifying its appearance.

Michael Shaw, the chief operating officer of Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia and the organization’s attorney, James Burns, said that Goodwill Industries would take steps to keep those concerns from happening at the Cinnaminson site.

“The things that concern you, concern us too,” Shaw said. “People leaving donations after hours, that’s a big concern for us. Tidiness to a site, that’s a huge concern for us.

Zoning Board’s Vote

The zoning board voted to grant Goodwill Industries’ variance request. The zoning board also approved the organization’s preliminary and final site plans.

These actions should not be taken lightly, Bednarek said.

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“This [Goodwill location] is the center of our town since we don’t have a Main Street,” he said. “I can assure you a lot of strong businesses in this town, in this area, and we really don’t want a bad neighbor.”

Shaw pledged to do his best to keep his promises.

“We want to be the best neighbor we can possibly be,” he said. “We’ve changed the way we do things and we’ve improved our brand.”

Next Steps

Goodwill Industries’ site plans for the Cinnaminson distribution center must still be approved by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Burlington County and the Burlington County School District before construction on the donation center can begin, members of the zoning board said.

A specific timeframe for how long it might take for the plans to be reviewed was not immediately available.

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