RED BANK: ZONING SHORTCUT TO GET DO-OVER

Maps showing a potential new “area in need of rehabilitation” as proposed last July, at left, and amended this week, at right. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A push to make the redevelopment of “underutilized” Red Bank properties easier returned to the spotlight Wednesday night, 10 months after it abruptly appeared and quietly vanished.

At the council’s semimonthly meeting, Mayor Pasquale Menna re-introduced a resolution that he said could eventually lead to incentives for “quick, expeditious and clean development” in the area of the borough train station.

The measure, which was introduced last July and subsequently tabled, would ultimately result in changes to zoning laws allowed under New Jersey statute concerning so-called “areas in need of redevelopment” if adopted, he said.

The proposal does not entail use of eminent domain, or public taking of private property, Menna said.

The latest version of the proposal, however, affects fewer properties than the earlier one, as indicated by the maps shown above. A list of the addresses was not immediately available, but the newer version is “substantially reduced” in geographic scope from the earlier version, which “included substantial parts of the West Side,” Menna said.

Menna told redbankgreen after the meeting that the revisions were made in consultation with planning and zoning director Glenn Carter, and driven by the idea that “it’s probably better to progress one area at a time.”

“It was made more compact, in order to make it more cohesive,” Menna said.

Carter was not present Wednesday night, but said last year that the intent of the effort was “to make the development review process more efficient” for developers, who continually find themselves faced with investing huge sums in plans that are subject to up-or-down votes.

“Nobody wants to go through the zoning board,” he said at the time “because you have to prove your case to very high standards,” and at great cost if the plan is rejected.

Menna said the area met one of the key criteria of the state law: that at least half of its housing stock be 50 years old or older.

The affected properties are also undervalued and not yielding the level of tax revenue for the borough that they might, he said. Instead, they might be used to help satisfy the borough’s “very strong and very pressing” legal obligations to provide housing for low- and moderate-income buyers, he said.

The resolution would first kick the matter over to the planning board for review of whether, in fact, the area is “in need of rehabilitation.”

At the request of councilmen Ed Zipprich and Mark Taylor, however, the resolution was tabled. They argued that it should first be discussed by the code enforcement committee on which they sit.

Menna said he had “no objection” to the request, but asked that the committee report back before the council’s May 24 meeting.

Vahid Walker, of Allen Place, praised the initiative, which he said would “better utilize the area between Broad Street and our gift of a railroad station.”

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