Skip to content

A town square for an unsquare town

redbankgreen

Standing for the vitality of Red Bank, its community, and the fun we have together.

BOARD STAYS ON TRANSIT VILLAGE TRACK

RbtrainstnThe planning board advanced the idea of a high-density transit village to be built near the Red Bank rail station. Below, homeowner Neil Spencer reviews a zone map with engineer Catherine Britell while his wife, Wendy, addresses the board. (Click to enlarge)

Suggested changes to Red Bank’s master plan won unanimous approval for the second time in two months last night, but not before comments and questions from the citizenry forced a rethinking of some details and a fuller explanation of others.

Spencers

In a do-over of a sparsely attended public hearing held December 15, planning board members sought to convey the message that new, apparently high density limits would in fact result in fewer residences being built than might be allowed if present regulations were unchanged.

The board also stuck to the essentials of the plan’s most controversial element: a new zone surrounding the borough’s train station to encourage the creation of a high-density transit village of stores and residences.

Up to 35 units per acre could be built in structures up to 50 feet tall if the borough council heeds the recommendation, which backers argued is consistent with the goals of New Jersey’s so-called Smart Growth plan.

“It really does foster those smart growth principles in an environmentally sensitive way,” said borough engineer Christine Ballard, of T&M Associates. “If we don’t start getting in line with state ideals, then we won’t get the state support we need.”

MetropolitanThe Metropolitan: last of its size downtown?

In mostly civil tones, residents questioned the extent to which the board took into account the impact of such high densities on borough water and sewer systems, as well as traffic. Former council member Grace Cangemi said the transit village would be detrimental to her neighborhood, along Rector Place, by loading numerous new rental units onto one with a high number of vacancies. And Jennifer Barons of Oakland Street challenged the assumption that homes near railroad stations encourage greater use of mass transit.

“I wouldn’t really bank on it,” said Barons, a former commuter. Few of her neighbors ride the rails, she said.

But former Mayor Ed McKenna, now the chairman of the state Planning Commission, said Red Bank was a model of planning being emulated and studied across the state, and exhorted the board to “stay the course” on the transit village concept.

“You’re ahead of the curve,” he said.

The master plan re-examination report at the center of the hearing also imposes density limits on a zone that includes Wallace Street, where the recently completed Metropolitan condos stand, at 46 units per acre, said board vice chairman Dan Mancuso. The new rules would top future development in the zone at 25 units per acre.

“We looked at this and said, ‘how can we have some teeth in our ordinances going forward?'” he said.

In some cases, the recommendations reduce the de-facto densities created by a slew of recent zoning board variances, while others impose limits that hadn’t before existed, planners said.

“You won’t see another project downtown like Wallace Street,” said board member and borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

Over more than two hours of polite exchanges, the board also deflected a request by architect Ned Gaunt for a prohibition on first-floor residential usages on Monmouth Street, a change that Mancuso said would unfairly burden property owners who already have street-level residences.

It also shot down a request by developer Patrick Nulle, a partner in a planned project at Pearl and Monmouth streets, to expand the zone to cover half a square mile — his property included.

The biggest victory of the night may have been scored by Wendy and Neil Spencer, who live at the corner of Monmouth Street and Shrewsbury Avenue. They expressed concern that their home, which was included in the overlay zone without any notification to them, could find itself next door to a 50-foot tall structure or be taken in an eminent domain action.

As he has been forced to repeat often since calling attention to the transit village concept on January 1, Mayor Pasquale Menna reiterated that eminent domain has never been used or contemplated in the two decades he’s been involved in borough government, and won’t be as long as he’s mayor.

Still, the board agreed to excise the Spencers’ home from the zone.

Afterward, Wendy Spencer said she was unaware that her property had been included in the proposed overlay zone until she read about the re-hearing on redbankgreen Tuesday.

“It was very fruitful,” she said of her appearance at the session.

Here’s the Master Plan Re-examination Report Download 2008 Master Plan.

The 1995 Master Plan and the 2002 re-examination are available at the borough website’s planning documents page.

Email this story

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
GOING GREY
Workers painting the stone facade of the PNC Bank at the corner of Broad and Harding Thursday morning. An upgrade? Maybe it’s just pri ...
COFFEE & WILDLIFE
RED BANK: The best wildlife show in town can be taken in from a waterfront bench outside the public library, and it's totally free.
FAWNING OVER HER BABY
A mother deer and her fawn were spotted between a row of garages on Hudson Avenue and some trees alongside the Broad Street parking lots. Re ...
EVENING ESCAPE
RED BANK: Sailors in Monmouth Boat Club's weekly racing series found tranquil conditions on the Navesink River Tuesday evening.
PEAK COLOR ON BROAD
RED BANK: A year after they were installed, downtown mini gardens have added to "transformational" improvements, says business owner.
RED BANK: FAIRIES MOVE IN ON WHITE STREET
Red Bank: Girl scouts turns tiny parking lot plot of dirt into a "magical girls sparkle garden."
TRAINING UNDER FIRE
RED BANK: Volunteer firefighters train to cut into pitched roofs under active fire conditions.
“SUPERMOM” WANTS YOUR VOTE
Business owner. Dyed in the wool, lifelong Red Banker. Mother of six. Yup, seems like Anita Pierce does it all. In other words, she’s ...
SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS
RED BANK: Town prepares for Saturday's Pride in the Park celebration with another lawn art design by public works supervisor and Fire Chief ...
MOVIES VIA LIBRARY
RED BANK: Public Library now offers members access to streaming movies via Kanopy, with some 30,000 titles and tons of content for kids.
NEW RAINBOW CROSSWALK ON BROWN PLACE
Kicking off pride month, some Brown Place and Spring Street residents, ages 5 to 11, constructed a rainbow crosswalk with chalk over the wee ...
WHAT TO WEAR?
RED BANK: Dressmakers' mannequins appeared to mull what to wear as they looked down on Monmouth Street last week.
SYMPHONY RETURNS JUNE 29
RED BANK: An annual crowd pleaser returns June 29 with a free concert in Marine Park by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, RiverCenter said ...
Heard on the Green
Heard on the Green
DUCK RESCUE EFFORT
Duckling rescue attempt underway in sewer at East Front and Broad, 10:29 a.m.
HOUSING CRUNCH
Demolition begins for new apartments at Globe Court and Mechanic Street.
FEELING SNAPPY
      Snapping Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs this time of year and are a common site along the Swimming River waterfr ...
TUB TIME
RED BANK: A sparrow waits for the next available dirt tub while two others take their Sunday baths. (Click for video.)
CHECK IT OUT
A bench outside the Red Bank Public Library provided a serene view of our beautiful Navesink River Monday evening.
WAYWARD SLIM JIM
Anybody lose a Slim Jim? A “Sweet Mild O’ Mine” flavor Slim Jim was seen left unattended on this mailbox on Mechanic Stree ...