The avenue is the northern edge of a 46-acre redevelopment zone also bounded by Route 73, Church Road, and Fellowship Road. Developers have been interested in the tract for decades, and longtime residents are distrustful of promises and fearful of change.
"We knew something was going to happen," Scott says. "But the Wal-Mart hit us like a bombshell."
Tucked between the I-295 and New Jersey Turnpike interchanges along southbound 73, the leafy little remnant of an earlier Mount Laurel has somehow survived the relentless spread of suburbia.
"I remember when you could walk across 73," says Chuck Urban, 66, a retired construction worker who raised three children on the avenue. "I remember when it was one lane each way."
No longer. About 42,000 cars traverse the intersection of 73 and Fellowship during an average day, according to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. (The intersection of Haddonfield Road and Route 90 in Pennsauken, by comparison, sees 21,578 vehicles in a typical 24 hours.)
Fellowship and 73 "are very congested, and there are a lot of crashes," says the commission's David Anderson, who headed a 2011 study of conditions in and around the intersection.
But despite the high-traffic location, the redevelopment area has long been marred by empty lots and vacant houses, whose owners sold out to make way for projects that didn't materialize.
In recent weeks many of the empty, vandalized eyesores have finally been demolished, as plans proceed for a fitness center along Church Road and, ultimately, a Wal-Mart. Additional development may follow.
"A retail center is a permitted use in that area," Mayor James Keenan says. "If I lived there, I wouldn't like it either - because it's not there now."
He notes that the developer has agreed to limit the size of the store, as well as the proportion of it floor space - 25 percent - devoted to groceries. But Gerald Chudoff, a Marlton resident and union activist who fights Wal-Marts, likens the proposal to "putting a Size 12 foot in a Size 8 shoe."
Keenan insists that "nobody's trying to shove anything down anyone's throat. . . . I will do everything within my power, within the law, to address the residents' concerns."
The "number-one concern is traffic, not the fact that it's a Wal-Mart," says Michael James Duffy, a Cherry Hill lawyer representing DiJohn, Scott, Urban, and about 30 other residents.
("I like Wal-Mart. In another town," Scott quips.)
"The residents are reasonable people, and they have reasonable concerns," Duffy adds. "When they bought these homes, this was a solidly residential area. But their community has been encroached upon. It's going from bad to worse."
I couldn't reach Edward Sheehan, the attorney for Mount Laurel Development. But DiJohn, Scott, and Urban show me vividly realistic digital renderings of what their new neighbor would look like: a Wal-Mart with a nearly 500-space parking lot.
The three neighbors worry about losing their views, their peace and quiet, and their property values.
"The traffic already backs up on 73," Scott says. "It's already horrendous. And a Wal-Mart is going to improve it?"
The neighbors are concerned about drainage (not for nothing is their street named after an aquatic mammal), about lighting, noise, litter, and even shoplifters cutting through the neighborhood to elude the cops.
Some residents are unalterably opposed to the store; others are more flexible. Either way, DiJohn says, "the developer and the township need to work with us."
If Mayor Keenan, who also sits on the planning board, means what he says - and I believe he does - then it's time for him to assert his leadership and arrange a meeting of the minds.
After all, the residents have lived in the neighborhood for years, if not decades. Wal-Mart is the new kid on the block.
To view video of residents of a Mount Laurel neighborhood objecting to a planned Wal-Mart in their midst, go to
Contact Kevin Riordan at 856-779-3845 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @inqkriordan. Read the metro columnists' blog, "Blinq," at www.phillynews.com/blinq.