ENOUGH ABOUT u. LET’S TALK ABOUT d.

— By LINDA G. RASTELLI

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Hitting the freebie bins downtown — and mailboxes in select neighborhooods — starting today is the premier issue of a quarterly magazine dubbed, simply, d.

But make no mistake, says first-time publisher Danny Sanchez, the photographer whose images nearly fill the magazine: d. is not about Danny Sanchez, at least not in the way that O. is about you-know-who.

Nor, despite its chic look, is it yet another plantation-lifestyle publication for Monmouth County’s super-rich like M.A.R. Magazine (for “Mid-Atlantic Riviera,” don’t you know) and The Book, published by the Two River Times.

What it is, though, is somewhat nebulous, much like Sanchez himself. “It’s about all of us, really,” he says. “And life.”

OK. And the title? It comes from the name of a short-lived softball team sponsored by Danny Sanchez Photographer, says Danny Sanchez, photographer.

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BEST LIQUORS IN THE DOCK

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It’s finally on. Four months later than expected, the Borough Council will hold a trial-like hearing Tuesday night to determine the fate of involving Best Liquors, Sunny Sharma’s packaged-goods store that last year became a lightning rod for quality-of-life complaints by its Leighton Avenue neighbors.

At issue: a 38-page raft of charges and evidence involving the sale of loose cigarettes and liquor to minors, all of which have been adjudicated in municipal court with either guilty pleas or convictions (though one of the convictions has been appealed to Superior Court.) Download best_liquors_charges_and_specifications.pdf

The defense: that after several acknowledged lapses, the business has cleaned up its act regarding liquor and booze sales and has done everything possible to ensure that loitering, noise and littering don’t occur on its corner, at Catherine Street.

Potential outcome: the temporary or even permanent lifting of the store’s liquor license.

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NOW OPEN ON MONMOUTH: THE ANTIFFANY

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Here’s a development that boggles the mind, given recent trends in Red Bank’s retail scene.

There’s a new store on the bustlingest stretch of Monmouth Street that you can go into with $20, buy a couple of items, and still walk out with change.

The display racks are made of unfinished pine. The front counter is a pine board lined with glass jars of penny candy. The merchandise includes apple-scented candles in mugs for about $6 as well as 2-foot-by-3-foot European rugs for $9.99.

And driving the business into existence is the proprietor’s desire to bring a little bit of the dear departed Prown’s back to downtown Red Bank.

“It’s a throwback,” Irwin Katz says about his store, which he named Four Chicks & a Rooster General Store after his five kids—four girls and a boy.

To which any thinking person must ask: Is he nuts? Or does Irwin Katz know something the rest of us don’t?

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PRESS: TIFFANY ‘NICE,’ BUT…

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Its ad-sales staff is probably still wetting itself with glee, but the editorial board of the Asbury Park Press today offers faint praise for the news last month that Tiffany & Company plans to open a store in downtown Red Bank.

In an editorial today about a tentative plan by Red Bank RiverCenter to install Smart Card dispensers (which the editorial writers favor) appears this somewhat incongruous paragraph:

The new Tiffany & Co. store may be a nice draw for Red Bank, but officials should make sure too many upscale shops don’t drive out old favorites. Prown’s, the variety store that had everything, is as missed today as much as it was when it closed four years ago.

Never mind that the paragraph is a non sequitur (it’s not made clear what Tiffany has to do with Smart Card machines). There’s a radical notion woven into the warm-and-fuzzies expressed n those two sentences.

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HOVNANIAN ABANDONS MONEY PIT

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Red Bank-based K. Hovnanian Homes has pulled the plug on a controversial plan to build up to 4,500 homes in Ocean County’s Berkeley Township after an adverse court ruling.

“We are not going to pursue this,” company spokesman Douglas Fenichel told the Asbury Park Press.

“I don’t have to tell you the market has changed,” Fenichel said. “It was as much a market decision as anything.”

The decision comes two months after a state Superior Court in Ocean county rejected Hovnanian’s claim in a lawsuit that Berkeley wasn’t providing its fair share of affordable housing. The company wanted to force the town to rezone more than 800 acres at the New Jersey Pulverizing gravel pits to allow for development.

“It’s a tremendous boost to the township’s efforts to control sprawl,” Berkeley Mayor Jason J. Varano said of the company’s decision, according to the Press.

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MIDDLETOWN REVAL STIRS CONCERN

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Monmouth County’s last holdout, Middletown Township, is undergoing a revaluation this year, its first full reset of property values in 23 years.

Unlike the process used in Red Bank, which recently completed a reassessment (basically, a drive-by look at each property, bolstered by comp sales data), inspectors will attempt to enter all 23,000 properties, including individual townhomes.

As in Red Bank, though — and Long Branch, and just about any town that goes through value-resetting process these days — the potential outcomes have property owners on edge. And roughly 50 of them gathered for a neighborhood meeting at the River Plaza Elementary School last week and brought with them anxious questions about market conditions, how to dispute appraisals, and of course, taxes.

But the recent “softening market” in home sales is good timing for the township, said Neil Rubenstein, of Realty Appraisal Company, based in West New York. Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger sought to assure residents that the town gets no additional money from the revaluation alone, because the tax rate is adjusted to reflect the new property tax base. If assessments double, in other words, tax rates are halved.

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EMERGENCY COPTER LANDING IN RUMSON

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Today’s Asbury Park Press reports that a helicopter made an emergency landing in the yard of a riverfront Rumson home yesterday after encountering engine problems.

The copter was enroute from Bridgeport, Conn., to Pottsville, Pa. Pilot Charles Priestley put it down about 200 feet from the Markwood Lane home of Carol and Donald Blesses on the Navesink River near Barley Point Island.

From the story:

Carol Blesse, who was gardening when Priestley dropped in about 4:30 p.m., first saw the helicopter when it was 50 feet in the air. Donald Blesse said he was working in the basement when he heard the helicopter making noises similar to a backfiring motorcycle.

“And as I walked out, I saw a perfect landing,” he said.

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CHINESE LANGUAGE FOR RED BANK KIDS?

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Today’s Asbury Park Press has a rundown on Shore-area school districts, including Red Bank’s, that are considering Chinese as a language offering.

From the story:

Late last month, representatives from more than 50 schools, including five Shore area districts, attended a state Department of Education information session about adding Chinese to their world languages.

“It’s looking at the future andbetter preparing students for the world and their future professions,” said Laura C. Morana, Red Bank schools superintendent, who attended that March 21 workshop. “Now, 67 percent of our students speak Spanish. Why not give them the opportunity to become trilingual?”

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