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RED BANK: BUONA SERA, JIMMY JOHN’S OK’D

21 w front 082614The former Wayne’s Market on West Front Street is slated to open as a Jimmy John’s franchise owned by Gaslight Anthem bassist Alex Levine, at left below, and Matt Schaffert, right. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

levine schaffert 020116The owners of two Red Bank restaurants left Monday night’s planning board meeting with unanimous approvals, one to expand and the other to open.

Buona Sera, at Maple Avenue and Monmouth Street, won an OK for a plan for a 1,200-square foot addition that might accommodate up to 50 standing customers. And Jimmy John’s Deli, a sandwich franchise co-owned by a member of the rock band Gaslight Anthem, got a thumbs-up to open in the former Wayne’s Market space on West Front Street.

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RED BANK: COUNCIL OKS STEP ON PARKING

rb white st 070915 3The planning board was directed to evaluate the borough-owned White Street lot for its “suitability” for a parking garage. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

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After months of silence on the issue, a possible parking garage in downtown Red Bank finally got its wheels on what could be a long up-ramp to reality Wednesday night.

Despite misgivings voiced by Councilwoman Cindy Burnham that doing so might attract “an overload of engineers,” the borough council unanimously agreed to have the the planning board determine whether the municipal lot on White Street “satisfies the criteria for designation as a noncondemnation redevelopment area.”

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FAIR HAVEN: POND DEAL ON COUNCIL AGENDA

schwenker's 012315Schwenker’s Pond, on River Road. The long-vacant Doremus house, below, which overlooked the pond, was demolished in late 2013. Two new homes are planned for the site. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

doremus-houseAfter years of limbo, a deal that would transfer ownership of Schwenker’s Pond in Fair Haven to the borough is expected to be sealed Monday night.

On the council’s agenda is a proposed developer’s agreement that Mayor Ben Lucarelli said will add to the town’s waterfront and open-space holdings.

“I’m of the belief that you only get one chance to make a piece of property public,” Lucarelli told redbankgreen last week.

Well, in this case, two.

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RED BANK: COURT BACKS HEIGHT CHANGE

hampton inn 040913The seven-story, 76-room hotel would be built on a one-acre riverfront property adjacent to Cooper’s Bridge, seen here from the Middletown side of the Navesink. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

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A 2013 change to the building height limits in Red Bank’s waterfront development zone did not constitute “spot zoning,” even though it benefitted a planned Hampton Inn a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Instead, the appeals court upheld a Superior Court decision that found the changes “were enacted as part of a comprehensive plan to advance the general welfare of the community.”

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RED BANK: MEET THE NEW DEPARTMENT HEADS

cliff keen 122315Cliff Keen, above, is the new director of public utilities, and Charlie Hoffmann, below, runs parks and rec. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

charlie hoffmann 122115Recent months have brought some new faces to Red Bank government.

In particular, three departments that residents have regular interaction with, and occasional strong opinions about, are under new leadership: parks and recreation; planning and zoning; and public utilities.

Here’s a quick intro to the new directors.

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RED BANK: HAMPTON HOTEL PLAN REVIVED

gasiorowski 072512Lawyer Ron Gasiorowski, who has sued to block to the hotel, examines a rendering at a 2012 hearing. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

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Five years after it was proposed and nearly two years after it was derailed by litigation, a planned Hampton Inn at Red Bank’s northern gateway is back.

But the controversial plan is still in court.

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RED BANK: GOP SHAKES UP TOWN HALL

mike whelan 010216 2Mike Whelan, 24, at his swearing in as Red Bank councilman. Below, Whelan running mate Mark Taylor. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[Correction: The original version of this story misreported the name of the borough prosecutor who was replaced Saturday.]

By JOHN T. WARD

mark taylor 010216 1The first Republican majority in a generation showed up at Red Bank borough hall Saturday with a broom.

Ousted were:

• Borough engineer Christine Ballard, of T&M Associates of Middletown, replaced by Bill White of borough-based Maser Consulting.

• Borough Attorney Dan O’Hern, the son of a former mayor, who was replaced by Jean Cipriani, a lawyer with a Toms River firm headed by the chairman of the Ocean County GOP.

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RED BANK: WHAT’S NEXT FOR RAYRAP SITE?

RayRap site 121015 2The zoning board shot down a plan to build 22 townhouses and condos on a parcel bound by Clay Street, Harding Road and Hudson Avenue, throwing the future of the site into uncertainty. (Google Earth image courtesy of Ray Rapcavage. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03It’s hard to avoid the use of the word “eyesore” when talking about the RayRap site at the Five Corners in Red Bank.

With a vacant lot that was once home to a gas station; the burned husk of a house destroyed by fire; and another notorious for having once been spray-painted black — windows, shingles and all — it’s easily one of the borough’s least visually gratifying parcels. The fact that it sits on a heavily traveled street bordering the downtown and a residential area only heightens the effect.

So now that the zoning board has shot down a plan to develop the site with 22 new homes, what happens? Are we stuck with an eyesore forever?

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FAIR HAVEN: OLD BUILDINGS TO BE JOINED

810 River Road elevation 120915 2Architect Matt Cronin’s design would link the two River Road buildings shown below with a new glass-filled central section. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

fh 810 812-14 riv rd 120815A plan to connect a pair of 150-year-old structures in Fair Haven with a window-filled central addition elicited unanimous praise from the planning board Wednesday night.

ForeFront Incorporated, a web tech firm headquartered in a stately Victorian two doors away, intends to use the conjoined buildings as expansion office space, company principal Michel Berger told the board.

With a patio, yoga space and “mom’s room,” it’s designed to attract millenial coders and developers to his company, where the average employee is 24 years old, Berger said.

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RED BANK: SUBWAY DEPARTS WITHOUT A STOP

b subway 091715 2The sandwich shop has sat ready for months, said the landlord. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallMore than four years after it was approved, a never-opened Subway sandwich shop has been evicted from its prospective home on Broad Street in Red Bank, redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn has learned.

The action puts a period, if not a satisfying answer, on one of the downtown’s persistent mysteries: whatever happened to the Subway?

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SHREWSBURY: BOROUGH’S ‘STORY’ UPDATED

burden gefken 112315 3Mayor Don Burden and co-author Rick Geffken at the Shrewsbury Municipal Complex. The Bonanno Farm on Sycamore Avenue, preserved under an easement, is visible in the background. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

story of shrewsbury 112315 2The 350-year history of Shrewsbury Borough, a vestige of a vast township that once extended from Raritan Bay to Little Egg Harbor, has a new chapter.

With the tiny borough getting ready to celebrate the 90th anniversary of its incorporation in 2016, two avid amateur historians — Rick Geffken and Mayor Don Burden — last month debuted a new edition to the definitive history of the town, adding in information on the past half-century of rapid transformation.

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RED BANK: ZONERS ZAP RAYRAP PLAN

bill brooks 120315 2Resident Bill Brooks studies a RayRap exhibit prior to the zoning board hearing. Below, a rendering of the proposed six-unit condo building that would front on Harding Road at Hudson Avenue. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rayrap condos 090815After a half-dozen hearings over 16 months and numerous revisions, a plan for 22 condos and townhouses on the edge of downtown Red Bank failed to win zoning board approval Thursday night.

Board members told developer Ray Rapcavage that though they appreciated his flexibility in accommodating the concerns of nearby residents, he hadn’t gone far enough.

“It’s just too dense,” said board chairwoman Lauren Nicosia, whose motion to reject the plan was backed by all but one other board member. Read More »

RED BANK: GARAGE SALE TO BENEFIT KIDS

rb clay st. 111815Ray Rapcavage, developer of 22 proposed townhomes in Red Bank, is planning a charity garage sale this Saturday on the Clay Street side of the site, which also fronts on Harding Road and Hudson Avenue. All proceeds from the sale will go to the Red Bank chapter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County, Rapcavage tells redbankgreen.

The sale features “hundreds of items” stored in the garages that front on Clay, Rapcavage said, including building supplies — such as windows, barn flooring and columns  as well as bicycles, children’s clothing, and toys. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A hearing on Rapcavage’s building proposal is scheduled resume at the zoning board meeting on December 3. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: RAYRAP TRAFFIC PLAN RAPPED

rayrap 110515 1Planning consultant John Jahr addresses a question from Hudson Avenue resident William Hartigan as builder Ray Rapcavage props up an exhibit Thursday night. Below, a view of the six-unit condo building fronting on Harding Road, which was to have been a greenmarket. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rayrap condos 090815For the fifth time, developer Ray Rapcavage has revised his plans for a residential development on the edge of downtown Red Bank, this time to accommodate complaints that eight homes on Hudson Avenue were too close to the street.

But nearby residents voiced concerns at a zoning board hearing Thursday night that the 22-unit project would worsen traffic and parking on an already busy and narrow street.

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RED BANK: RAYRAP PLAN ON ZONING AGENDA

rayrap clay 011515rayrap 090315 2Developer Ray Rapcavage is scheduled to return to the Red Bank zoning board Thursday night with his proposal to build 22 homes on a block bounded by Harding Road, Hudson Avenue and Clay Street. Hearings on the original plan began in August, 2014, with a nine-month interim during which the proposal was revised.

Another project, the proposed 35-unit Element, opposite Riverside Gardens Park at 55 West Front Street, was also to have been heard, but has been rescheduled for December 10, according to a revised board agenda(Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)