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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

HOT-TOPIC_03

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

HOT-TOPIC_03

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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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)

SHREWSBURY: SHADOWBROOK PLAN ON DECK

shadowbrook-estateThe opulent Shadowbrook facility, which is not visible from any public street, is surrounded by homes and accessed via a single, long driveway, below. (Photo above from the Shadowbrook website; below by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

shadowbrook 092615A plan to more than double the size of the Shadowbrook catering facility in Shrewsbury has neighbors concerned about added traffic, spillover parking and noise.

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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)

RED BANK: BURNHAM WINS ZONING CASE

cindy burnham 121814Cindy Burnham with her attorney, Ron Gasiorowski, at Thursday night’s zoning board hearing. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The fix wasn’t in – not this time at least.

Cindy Burnham, the lone Republican on the Red Bank council who often lambastes the Democratic majority for what she contends are back-room  development deals, went before the zoning board Thursday night seeking an OK for a new garage and back porch for her home at 71 Wallace Street.

She came loaded for bear.

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RED BANK: GREEN LIGHT FOR GOTHAM

gotham 072114A passerby checks out new signage being installed Monday for Gotham, a speakeasy-themed gastropub that won approval from the Red Bank zoning board last week with no objections voiced by onlookers.

The club, which takes over the former Hamilton Jewelers space at 19 Broad Street, is expected to open by October, and will feature regular comedy, jazz and DJ shows, partner Joseph Squillaro tells redbankgreen. (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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RED BANK WINS HOTEL HEIGHT CHALLENGE

gasiorowski 072512Attorney Ron Gasiorowski, above, has repeatedly challenged a proposed six-story Hampton Inn on the site of a former filling station, below.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hampton 1 031812The long-running saga of a proposed Hampton Inn at Red Bank’s northern gateway took a turn this month with a win by the borough in court.

In an April 7 decision, Superior Court Judge Thomas Scully in Freehold rejected a challenge to a 2012 zoning change that raised the building-height limit at the proposed hotel site, at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper Bridge.

The decision, unless overturned on appeal, is expected to clear the way for the hotel’s developer, Rbank Capital, to return to the planning board with the most significant hurdle to the plan nullified.

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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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RED BANK: CHURCH PLAN WINS FULL BLESSING

rb church 033114Developer Bob Silver, below, hugs congregants of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, above, after gaining approval to convert the 62-year-old structure to offices. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

bob silver 040314The proposed conversion of First Church of Christ, Scientist in Red Bank into an office complex was praised to the heavens Thursday night, even by a couple of neighbors who’d previously expressed wariness about it.

Developer Bob Silver, who previously converted a Christian Scientist church in Montclair into offices, won kudos for preserving one of Broad Street’s architectural gems while yielding to concerns about traffic. His project, dubbed “Two Eleven Broad,” was also lauded for “saving the home” of a shrunken congregation, which will continue to use a portion of the building, and for touches including electric-car rechargers and bike racks.

Silver is “the best possible neighbor that the neighbors could want,” said abutting property owner William Hartigan of Hudson Avenue, whose concerns about the plan were spotlighted by redbankgreen earlier this week.

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RED BANK: CHURCH PLAN UPSETS NEIGHBORS

hartigan 1 033114William Hartigan notes the proximity of a church garage to his family’s outdoor dining area. Below, the church as seen from Broad Street; the wing at the left would get a second story. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb church 033114It’s a story as old as the concept of property rights: a couple settles into  their dream home, and then the folks next door do something on their patch of heaven to disturb the idyll.

When William and Kathryn Hartigan moved to Red Bank from Jersey City four years ago, they never imagined that the church that abuts their Hudson Avenue property would be anything other than a house of worship, quiet and unnoticed except for the bells pealing in the steeple on Sunday mornings.

But the proposed conversion of First Church of Christ, Scientist on Broad Street into an office complex has Hudson Avenue neighbors alarmed about traffic, and the Hartigans about the impact on their dream.

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RED BANK: DRIVE-THRU CHANGE SAILS THRU

rassas 7 052213The change will not apply to a proposed Walgreen’s store at the former site of Rassas Buick, officials said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_01A change to Red Bank’s law on drive-thru businesses got quick service Wednesday night.

Setting aside opposition by the lawyer for a proposed Walgreen’s pharmacy and by Coffee Corral owner Russ Crosson, the council gave unanimous approval to a zoning change that requires new drive-thrus to be located 100 feet from a residential zone.

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