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ON TAP: MASTER PLAN CHANGES

dogs-of-pavlov-fixxThe Fixx, on West Front Street, is the only licensed nightclub in Red Bank. Officials plan to address the fuzzy distinctions between ‘lounge’ and ‘nightclub’ in borough ordinances.

A raft of proposed law changes that could spark high-density residential development around the Red Bank train station moves into its final stage next week.

The borough council is expected to introduce ordinances at its bimonthly meeting Monday night that would codify some or all of the recommendations of a master plan review now winding down at the planning board.

The board, meanwhile, has decided it wants to tackle at least one more issue before it wraps up its work on the plan: the definition of ‘nightclub.’

The most controversial aspect of the package may be the one that would create a ‘transit village‘ overlay zone surrounding the the train station. It would allow the development of up to 35 units per acre for projects with a retail component.

“The idea of the overlay is to create pedestrian traffic around the train station,” borough engineer Christine Ballard said at Monday night’s board meeting.

Officials say the proposal is in keeping with the aims of the New Jersey Smart Growth initiative, which aims to cluster future development around existing infrastructure to slow the loss of farmland and other open space elsewhere.

But planning board members on Monday night took an axe to a provision in the package that would have allowed buildings of up to 60 feet tall in the proposed zone if a developer preserved 20 percent of a property for open space.

“I don’t ever want to have anything sixty feet tall in Red Bank,” said board vice chairman Dan Mancuso, adding that he often rues earlier board decisions, some of which he favored, when he looks at the skyline.

Other elements of the changes include setbacks of buildings along Monmouth Street and the elimination of a requirement that developers provide recreational space for new projects. Board members said the provision was rarely if ever enforced because few undeveloped properties in town had room for playgrounds.

The board also agreed that it wanted to revisit the definition of ‘nightclub’ on Ballard’s recommendation. She noted that only the Fixx, on West Front Street, holds a nightclub license, permitting more than three live musicians and dancing by patrons, but that other clubs act as nightclubs.

“We have quite a number of places with live music,” she said, but there seems to be no enforcement of the distinction.

“We tolerate it,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna, who’s on the board.

Board members noted that the limits on the numbers of musicians were aimed at keeping noise levels and crowd sizes down, but wondered whether the existing ordinances were having the intended effect.

Menna said he wanted to solicit input from clubs and owners of nearby businesses before the board recommended any changes.

Here are the current definitions of ‘lounge’ and ‘nightclub’ on the books:

lounge-def

nightclub-def

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

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