CourtyardatmonmouthTown officials are talking about taking a bulldozer to two houses on the site of the approved-but-not-begun Courtyard at Monmouth complex of apartments, stores and offices.

Calling them "a blight on the community," Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna and members of the borough council said two vacant Monmouth Street homes should probably be torn down, with or without the owners' consent.

The chain-rattling was prompted at Monday night's council meeting when Councilman Ed Zipprich asked what was happening with the homes, which he called "derelict."

"Where do we stand as far as taking the buildings down?" asked Councilman Art Murphy.

"They've been vacant for quite a time."

"If they don't tear it down, maybe we should tear it down," Menna said.

Courtyards_at_monmouthA view along Monmouth Street of the proposed Courtyard at Monmouth project. The entrance to the underground garage is on West Street, seen at right.

But the strong talk was somewhat at odds with a report from borough Administrator Stanley Sickels that code enforcement officers had checked out the site and found it in compliance with rules applying to unoccupied structures.

He added that the borough had previously demolished "two problem properties," but both were in a state of collapse. The Monmouth Street homes are not, and are boarded up so that no one could enter them without a ladder, he said.

Still, Sickels added, "there may be some provisions under which we could declare them a blight on the neighborhood." He said he would research the question with the borough attorney.

The homes are on the site of the planned Courtyard at Monmouth project approved by the borough planning board last March.

They're located between the building that houses Prown's Home Improvements and a disused filling station at the corner of West Street that is also part of the planned project.

"The problem is this is the gateway to Red Bank," said Menna. "It really is a blight on the community. If the owner doesn't maintain them, the borough should take aggressive action."

Courtyard at Monmouth developer George Coffenberg tells redbankgreen that no one from the borough government has ever approached him about the state of the properties, but that given the current market conditions, he can't foresee starting construction anytime soon — or knocking down what's there.

"I know they're not attractive," he said, "but I don't have any plans to remove them at this time."

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