Six weeks after a proposal to expand the Community YMCA facility came up one vote short at the Red Bank zoning board, an attempt to get the idea back on track ran into a brick wall at the planning board Monday night.
The outcome left Mayor Pasquale Menna isolated by two boards over which he has appointment control. Seven planning board members voted in favor of a resolution finding the Y plan not to be in conformance with the goals of the borough’s Master Plan. Menna alone voted ‘no’ on the measure.
The hearing’s purpose was for the planning board to offer an opinion to the borough council on a proposed amendment to zoning laws to reclassify recreational usages as permissible in the zone in which the Y sits. Approval by the council would enable the Y to revive its plan without having to confront the significant obstacle of a use variance.
The council, which has not had a formal vote on the issue, may still proceed with the zoning change, but without planning board OK would need a supermajority to pass it, planning board attorney Michael Leckstein said.
Last night’s rejection threw a political obstacle in the way of that end, and came after three members of the zoning board, appearing in unofficial capacities, challenged the rationale for the request.
One of them, Rosemary Minear, said she took “umbrage” at the prospect of the zoning board’s decision being overruled by another body after a long series of hearings and deliberation.
“This ordinance as proposed is tailor-made for the YMCA and is tantamount to spot zoning,” Minear told the board. “It is my opinion that this is an obvious attempt to undermine the decision” of the zoning board.
Zoning board member Karen Waldmann asked the planning board, “If the zoning board had voted five-to-two [in favor of the Y plan], would we be here today?”
“That’s a rhetorical question, I assume,” interjected Leckstein.
“It does speak for itself,” Waldmann replied.
Marvin Goldin, a congregant of Congregation Beth Shalom, whose property would be surrounded by the Y’s parking lot, called the amendment an attempt to “end-around” the zoning board decision, and urged rejection.
With Menna appearing discomfitted, planning board members Guy Maratta, Dan Mancuso, Lou DiMento and Councilwoman Sharon Lee, all stood up for the zoning board. They were joined in rejecting the zone change by Administrator Stan Sickels, board Chairman John Cash and John Goode.
“A very good zoning board rendered an opinion, and they feel the rug is being pulled out from under them,” Maratta said. “I would have concern that I can’t vote my conscience. I think they did a fine job.”
An attorney for the Y said previously that a failure by the council to act in the facility’s favor might result in a lawsuit being filed against the zoning board.