RED BANK: LAUNDROMAT & APARTMENTS OK’D

The new structure would be built between a six-unit apartment building, at left, and Juanito’s Market, at right, with all three properties sharing parking in back. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank zoning board approved the creation of a new laundromat and four apartments on a vacant Shrewsbury Avenue lot Thursday night.

But before the project can get underway, grocer and restaurateur Juan Torres will have to reduce a possible tab for water and sewer hookups that could total $562,000.

A view of the Shrewsbury Avenue facade of the proposed building. (Rendering by Michael Monroe Architects. Click to enlarge)

That’s how much board Engineer Ed Herrman, of T&M Associates, estimated Torres would need to pay the borough for hookups and the state for a Treatment Works Approval permit required of large-scale water users by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

But the DEP’s method of calculating the fee is “probably outdated,” Herrman told the board. He said new washing machines use as little as seven gallons of water per load, whereas the state assumes laundromat usage of 560 gallons per machine each day.

“You need to have a conversation with the DEP” as well as borough utilities officials, Herrman told former Mayor Ed McKenna, serving as Torres’ attorney.

McKenna told redbankgreen the project won’t be built if the fees aren’t reduced, but he’s confident they will be.

If the project goes ahead, Torres would add to a business empire that includes Juanito’s Market, on Shrewsbury Avenue at Catherine Street, and a six-unit apartment building fronting on Shrewsbury Avenue.

Those properties flank the vacant lot on which the new, three-story structure is to be built. The building, with a ground-floor laundromat and two, two-bedroom apartments of 1,000 square feet on each of the upper stories, would share driveway and parking access in their rear areas, with access from Catherine Street.

That would allow for the elimination of the Shrewsbury Avenue driveway for the existing apartments that McKenna called “dangerous” because of sight-line limitations and heavy street traffic.

Torres said the idea for the laundromat came from listening to his customers, who told him they often travel by cab and Uber to Fair Haven, Eatontown or Neptune to find reliable facilities.

“Everyone has to go to different towns because laundromats in Red Bank have broken machines or the machines are too small,” he told the board.

Torres’ laundry would feature 30 washing machines and 45 dryers, architect Michael Monroe told the board.

The project, with 21 parking spaces, needed a variance based on a calculation that the three properties would have a combined parking demand of 60 spots. Nearly all of that, however, was a pre-existing condition attributable to the market, McKenna said. The market won parking variances in 2011 based on testimony the close to all its customers would arrive on foot.

That has proven true, Monroe said. “I think we have more parking than we need, by far,” he testified.

Board member Sean Murphy, citing the half-dozen bakeries, bodegas and restaurants Torres owns under the Juanito’s brand on Shrewsbury Avenue and Monmouth Street, moved approval of the plan.

“He’s done a great job upkeeping all of his businesses,” Murphy said, before the board voted unanimous approval.

No one from the audience offered comment on the proposal.

A hearing scheduled on a proposed backstage expansion of the Two River Theater was postponed to April 20.

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