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RED BANK: SALARIES ON AGENDA

rb-council-chambersSalaries for the mayor and council members would remain unchanged, but the earnings potential of professionals at borough hall would rise under a proposed ordinance. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesSix borough hall jobs will offer potential salaries above $100,000 if an ordinance on Wednesday night’s agenda is passed by the Red Bank council.

That’s up from three the last time the council adjusted salaries for its professionals, in 2014.

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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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RED BANK: FAMILIAR FACES AT HAMPTON II

Engineer Rich Kenderian testifies for the hotel developer, above. Below, objector Stephen Mitchell reviewing plans. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

Parking and stormwater emerged as early issues when the second round of hearings for a proposed six-storyRed Bank hotel got underway Monday night.

The 76-room Hampton Inn would be built at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper Bridge, at the northern gateway to town, on the former site of an Exxon gas station. A series of combative hearings on the plan that began in August, 2011 ended nearly a year later with a ruling the structure was too tall.

With zoning rules since amended by the borough council to accommodate the building’s height, the start of round two brought out familiar adversaries – and one new one who, if she was present, did not announce herself or her interest.

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RED BANK: CONTROVERSIAL HOTEL RETURNS

A Hampton Inn hotel is proposed for the long-vacant Exxon station site at the foot of the Cooper Bridge.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

It’s back.

After a year of dormancy, a controversial proposal for a six-story, 76-room Hampton Inn hotel at the northern gateway to Red Bank returns to the spotlight Monday night, when the borough planning board begins anew with what’s expected to be another series of hearings.

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NEIGHBORS OPPOSING RED BANK WALGREEN’S

Melissa Grieves, seated at right, addresses neighbors concerned about the planned redevelopment of the former Rassas car lot, below, into a mega-drugstore.  (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

A proposed Walgreen’s drugstore on Broad Street in Red Bank would be a bitter pill, say nearby homeowners, who’ve begun to organize for a fight.

About 30 residents of the quiet neighborhood between Pinckney Road and Rumson Place gathered in a Little Silver backyard over coffee Saturday morning to strategize a response to the proposed mega-pharmacy, at the site of the recently-closed Rassas auto dealership.

“I was stunned and extremely concerned,” organizer Melissa Grieves of Salem Place said in an email to redbankgreen. “As a neighborhood, we are concerned about not only our property values, but also the potential for additional car traffic through our quiet streets, as well as lighting and noise concerns, amongst other issues.”

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RED BANK: WALGREEN’S EYES RASSAS LOT

The plan calls for access from Broad Street in both directions, as well as from Garfield Place. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Just a month after ending its long run as a car dealership, a gateway property to Red Bank could become a Walgreen’s drugstore.

The former home of Rassas Pontiac/Buick, which closed in April after 83 years in Red Bank, and 64 years at the southernmost address on Broad Street, would become a giant personal-care products emporium, complete with a drive-thru window, according to documents filed with the borough planning office Wednesday.

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RED BANK: NEW RESTAURANT OK’D

Architect Michael Simpson, below, addresses the Red Bank planning board about expanding the use of the former Fameabilia store on Monmouth Street to accommodate a restaurant. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

A red Bank storefront that over the past 20 years has been a CPA’s office, a theater, a store selling Hollywood memorabilia and a long-empty shell now has permission to become a restaurant.

The Red Bank planning board approved Wadsworth Properties’ application Monday night for change of use at 42 Monmouth Street, which last saw use as the home of Fameabilia.

RED BANK: EXXON V. SHELL ON 7-ELEVEN PLAN

The plan calls for a the convenience store to be built in the northwest corner of the property. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

It’s Shell v. Exxon in Red Bank, and not just over the price of gas.

A proposal by the owner of the Shell station at Newman Springs Road and Shrewsbury Avenue to build a 7-Eleven store where it now has a self-serve car wash has drawn opposition from the Exxon station at the same intersection as well as nearby residents.

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PLANNERS DEEP-SIX EAST SIDE 7-ELEVEN

The Welsh Farms store, which now closes at 10 p.m., would have become an all-day 7-Eleven if the plan had gone through. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s planning board shot down a proposal to convert the East Front Street Welsh Farms convenience store to a 7-Eleven Monday night.

The 6-o vote on a motion by borough Administrator Stanley Sickels was driven by one issue: the plan by the operator, Dina Enterprises, to keep the store that now closes at 10 p.m. open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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BATTLE OVER TREE ENDS WITH REMOVAL OK

The 100-foot tulip poplar, center, became a lightning rod for opinions about Fair Haven’s tree law.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After nearly a year of controversy, a 100-foot tulip poplar that rallied both supporters and detractors of Fair Haven’s tree preservation law is coming down.

With members saying they were swayed by the “compelling” testimony of an arborist last week, the borough planning board reversed itself Thursday night, giving builder Bob Susser of Rumson an OK to remove the tree on the site of a three-home development on Woodland Drive.

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