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FAIR HAVEN: WHAT RESIDENTS LIKE, OR DON’T

fh river rd 042016 2A survey found general satisfaction with the older, eastern business district, above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03There are too many street lights on River Road. There aren’t enough on Third Street. New and remodeled homes are too big.

So say some Fair Haven residents in a new and extensive survey of on the physical attributes of the town as it begins mapping out its future.

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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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FAIR HAVEN: INPUT WANTED ON PLANNING

fh-boro-hallThe Fair Haven Planning Board is conducting a survey as it prepares to create an updated Master Plan, asking residents whether they think downtown signs are too big, how their children get to school, how they would feel about a dog park in town and more.

Resident input “is critical to help us prioritize and ensure that we’re not missing any issues important to residents and visitors,” says board member Jake Rue. The online survey is here. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: AFTER 26 YEARS, BARR ZONES OUT

donna smith barr 042815 2Zoning officer Donna Smith Barr leaves the job this week after 26 years. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

people-in-the-newsThe cliches compete: it’s tempting to say Donna Smith Barr has had a front-row seat on Red Bank’s two-decade-long bounceback from “Dead Bank” to today’s bustling burg. But it’s probably more accurate to say she’s been the gatekeeper.

Whether you wanted to put a deck on your house or turn a downtown store into a restaurant, Barr’s office has been the first stop at borough hall. And if she spoke or wrote the word “variance” in response, it probably wasn’t your last, as it would mean the time and expense of making one’s case before the zoning or planning board.

“I’m glad I don’t have to tell people they need variances anymore,” Barr told redbankgreen Tuesday. A single instance is one thing, “but when you do it for 26 years, that’s enough.”

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RED BANK: MINUTES IN HISTORY

rb records 021115 2rb records 021115 1Workers from the digital archiving company DRS Group roll up old plats on the floor of the planning and zoning office in Red Bank Wednesday afternoon for transfer to a scanning facility in Springfield. At right, Ricardo Peetes rides down in the elevator at borough hall with a palette load of documents.

As part of a digitization project, the minutes of planning and zoning board applications dating back to 1929 – minus a decade’s worth from the 1950s that are believed to have been destroyed in a fire – are being scanned and transferred to both digital files and microfilm, says office director Donna Smith-Barr. Once that’s complete, the borough will apply to the state for permission to destroy the hundreds of site plans, architects’ renderings and other large pieces used as evidence in hearings, she said. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RUMSON: JUST ANOTHER TEARDOWN?

8 navesink ave 0901148 navesinkA riverfront mansion in Rumson may put a new spin on the concept of real estate teardowns. The 12,000-square-foot house at 8 Navesink Avenue, with eight bedrooms and 12 bathrooms, was razed recently. The property was the subject of a live auction in July, 2013, when it failed to attract a single offer at the minimum bid of $2.6 million. Four months later, however, it sold for $5.6 million to Dennis and Marshall Lynch, according to Monmouth County records. The Lynches won planning board approval in April to build a new residence on the 1.9-acre site. (Photo above by Michael McMahon. Click to enlarge)

 

RED BANK: CHOCOLATE SHOP ON AGENDA

65 broad 073014The proposed conversion of the storefront at 65 Broad Street in Red Bank to a Chocolate Works shop is slated for review by the borough planning board Monday night. The plan requires approval for a change-of-use from retail to primary food use and a parking variance (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RUMSON: EDGEWOOD HOME PLAN NIXED

 rumson pb 070714A proposal to subdivide the property at 9 Edgewood Place, below, drew nearly two dozen opponents Monday night.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

9 edgewood 070714After three long hearings packed with opponents, a proposal to combine and re-subdivide three Rumson lots for two new homes met unanimous rejection by the planing board Monday night.

At three-quarters of an acre each, the two new building lots, fronting on Edgewood Road, would be nearly identical in area to properties a block away, in the same zone, on Circle Drive.

But citing what several called the unique character of the neighborhood, opponents said the new lots would appear squeezed in on Edgewood, where the homes are so far apart that, one woman testified, children won’t go door-to-door on Halloween because it makes for inefficient trick-or-treating.

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SEA BRIGHT: DONOVAN’S COMEBACK DELAYED

sb donovan's 040214The site of Donovan’s Reef in April. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

An ambitious plan to reopen a prominent Sea Bright bar by July 4 won’t meet its goal, the Star-Ledger’s website reports.

Bob Phillips, an owner of Donovan’s Reef, tells nj.com that the effort has been frustrated by his inability to obtain a loan from the federal government.

Still, the business, destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012, will reopen in scaled-down form this summer, with completion of a permanent new structure as early as November, Phillips tells the news organization.

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RED BANK: PLANNERS SPAR OVER FACADES

joe romanowski 111513 2A plan by Joe Romanowski to remove the vestibule of his new Goldtinker store on Broad Street won approval. So did Tommy’s Coal-Fired Pizza’s request to permanently enclose seasonal seating area at the Galleria, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

tommy's 042114The  Red Bank planning board approved a restaurant expansion, a downtown facade change and the renovation of what Mayor Pasquale Menna called a “cancerous eyesore” Monday night.

Along the way were some unusual flashes of passion among board members.

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SEA BRIGHT: DONOVAN’S TO REBUILD

donovan's 2 110312Donovan’s Reef as seen five days after Hurricane Sandy, above, and in better days, below. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Donovan's 10-07 2Smashed to splinters by Hurricane Sandy, Sea Bright’s venerated beachfront bar, Donovan’s Reef, will make it’s return this summer, an  owner tells redbankgreen.

The comeback, approved earlier this week by the borough planning board in a unanimous 8-0 vote, could begin with an the opening of tiki bar as soon as May 15, said Bob Phillips, who co-owns the business with two partners.

“Their mentality is, ‘We need you more than you need us,'” Phillips said of the board’s members.

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WALGREEN’S MOVES; NEIGHBORS NOT SO MUCH

walgreen's 2 102113Borough engineer Christine Ballard, left, of T&M Associates, answers neighbors’ questions about the Walgreen’s proposal during a break in Monday night’s hearing. Below, a plan shows the flow of delivery trucks in yellow. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

walgreen's 1 102113A Walgreen’s pharmacy proposed for Red Bank got moved a few feet since it was first pitched to the borough planning board, company representatives said Monday night.

It also got a bit of an architectural makeover to make a long, windowless wall less forbidding. Both changes were intended to address concerns of nearby residents.

But questions from both neighbors and board members persisted about why the store, at 14,200 square feet, has to be so large. And the answer that kept coming back was: it’s smaller than the “typical” Walgreen’s.

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SEA BRIGHT: WELL, HOW ABOUT A PHARMACY?

Residents at Wednesday night’s brainstorming session in Sea Bright. (Photo by Colby Wilson. Click to enlarge)

By COLBY WILSON

For the second time this week, business owners, residents and concerned others gathered at Sea Bright borough hall Wednesday night to brainstorm on the town’s future.

At an open-invite think tank of sorts, the second meeting held by the Sea Bright 2020 steering committee focused on economic development and community facilities. On Monday, the focus was on housing and the waterfront.

“Let’s talk about strengths,” said Frank Lawrence, the committee’s chairman. “Not just what’s bad but what’s good,”

The conversation, however, quickly turned to what the town didn’t have and the challenges it still faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy – a stark reminder that Sea Bright is still fighting back from the storm.

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SEA BRIGHT BEGINS LOOKING TO 2020

Borough residents at Monday night’s 2020 session, where FEMA planner Linda Weber, below, took notes. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The scene: a public brainstorming session at Sea Bright’s borough hall.

The purpose: to begin shaping what’s expected to be a long-range process to address housing and commercial needs both in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and in anticipation of another such walloping.

With the floor opened to observations, one woman raised concerns about vacant homes attracting prowlers.

A man’s suggestion that all the utility poles along Ocean Avenue be removed drew a smattering of applause.

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