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YMCA ZONE ISSUES HEADS BACK TO COUNCIL

ymcaMaple Avenue’s most famous non-conformer, the Community YMCA, will again seek permitted-use status. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The hottest potato in town is back in the hands of the Red Bank Borough Council.

A proposed ordinance amendment that would make the Community YMCA a permitted use on Maple Avenue is moving toward a final vote by the council, presumably at its meeting next Monday night.

But the council will be acting without the aid of a resolution that Mayor Pasquale Menna believes the governing body may need in the event that the amendment is shot down, triggering a lawsuit.

The matter has been bouncing between two boards and the governing body for months. In February, after months of hearings and a plan revision, the Y failed to gain a supermajority approval by the zoning board on a request to expand its existing facility, which has been operating as a non-conforming use.

The planning board last month affirmed that decision.

In the interim, though, the council moved to amend the zoning law to allow for recreational facilities in the zone where the Y is sited. That would permit the nonprofit to return to the borough with a revived buildout plan and avoid the obstacle of variance approvals, its representatives have said.

The council held off voting on the ordinance last month because it hadn’t received a resolution memorializing the planning board’s decision, and its reasoning. Menna, who is also a member of the planning board, said the resolution is necessary because it is an official document that is voted upon.

But at Monday night’s planning board meeting, board attorney Michael Leckstein told Menna that a report from the board saying the ordinance amendment isn’t in line with the borough master plan is sufficient. That report has been sent to the council he said.

Leckstein had arrived at the meeting with a draft resolution, under the assumption that the board wanted one. But a majority felt that adding what Councilwoman Sharon Lee called a “double Band-aid” wouldn’t be necessary, or, if the Y were to sue the borough, give the planning board any more protection.

“(Leckstein) brought it out, he read it and the planning board said the law doesn’t require this. All it requires is the report,” board member Lou DiMento said. “We gave the report and we’re going to stick to the letter of the law.”

Menna feels a resolution is a proper safeguard for the borough if the revised ordinance fails and lawsuit is filed.

“I still think it would have been important that if it went to court, a resolution would be more appropriate because it’s an official action,” Menna told redbankgreen yesterday. “At least in a resolution you have a recorded vote by individuals that have certified their position.”

He added that he has no “inside track on whether they’re going to go to court or not.”

Menna said he isn’t sure if the ordinance will be on the agenda when the council convenes next, at 6:30p on Monday.

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