RIVER’S EDGE OK’D; PLANS PATH TO NEW PARK

rivers-edge21One of the houses to be torn down as part of the River’s Edge condo project, which gained approval to add more units Thursday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Just like that, the RW @ River’s Edge condominium project is going to be a little bit bigger than originally approved.

And in gaining the zoning board’s OK, a new detail emerged: there’s a new park planned for Red Bank, not far from where River’s Edge plans to build. And its developers say they want a hand in getting to the park, too.

By a vote of 5-1, the zoning board gave the green light for three additional units to the River’s Edge condo project, bringing the total to 15 — one unit more than what was denied by the board back in 2006 because it was too dense for the plot that sits above the water between Drs. James Parker Boulevard and Bank Street.

It isn’t too dense now, apparently.

RW’s attorney, Kevin Coakley, tells redbankgreen that the project site was slightly re-engineered in a way to fit the additional units. He also said a lot of money was spent on the purchase of the property, which occurred when the real estate market was high, and now the developers feel they can maximize their return by maximizing the space on the property.

“It’s a very tight project, economically,” Coakley said, “so if you can get within the parameters of the law, you can fit a few more units there.”

Rosemary Minear was the only board member to vote against the proposal, and for the same reason the board initially voted down a 14-unit plan in 2006.

“I thought that was cramming in, and I thought this was going to look very dense,” she said. “I couldn’t see any legitimate reason to grant it to them.”

The rest of the board, with many of its members absent, saw reason enough to allow the site plan change. In making a case for approval, project representatives also threw in an enticing offer to the borough.

They said RW would lay down a 10-foot-wide stone path along the bank of the water leading to the primary school, where the borough intends to build a new park — Sunset Park, to be precise, Minear said.

“It was a new twist to the application,” she said.

Seeing that come to fruition may take some time, though. Coakley said RW will first need to conduct a waterfront environmental study and obtain a modification to its current permit from the state Department of Environmetal Protection to move forward on the path. There are endangered species nearby, including bald eagles, and it must be proven to the DEP that the path won’t have a negative impact on the wildlife, he said.

That, too, may become a stumbling block, because RW was not allowed by the DEP to install a sidewalk or other riverfront structure because of the bald eagle habitat, back in 2008.

Considering RW’s luck in changing minds, though, Coakley thinks getting the permit modification, and eventually, the stone path to the park, is feasible.

A handful of residents who live near the condo site came out with concerns Thursday night, Minear said. At the forefront of their worries was traffic and safety in the area, she said.

“They weren’t enthused about the additional units there, either,” Minear said.

Conversely, Coakley believes this modified plan will, in the end, be more attractive to the area. With demolition still to be done on the site, he anticipates construction to get going within the next six to twelve months.

“It worked out well, and hopefully the residents will be pleased with the demolition, the walkway and the units,” he said. “It’s all a package.”