WALLACE STREET CONVERSION TABLED

crosson-091611The building, which is some 116 years old, was converted from a two-family to office use three years ago. Now the owner wants to switch back. (Click to enlarge)

By MOLLY MULSHINE

Russ Crosson‘s neighbors are not thrilled about his plans to convert his Red Bank office into a two-family dwelling.

Wallace Street residents attended the zoning meeting held Thursday night to question Crosson about his plans, and the board tabled the application so residents could have more time to speak on the issue.

Crosson’s building, at 47 Wallace, dates back to at least 1985 and was a two-family dwelling when he bought it in 1983, according to his attorney, Mark Aikins,. With zoning board approval, Crosson converted the structure to office space three years ago, just before the commercial real estate market tanked.  Since then, Crosson has been unable to find a tenant for the second floor, and in late June, was forced to close his 20-year-old construction business, which used the first floor.

If his plans go forward, there will be enough square footage for six residential tenants on the ground floor and five on the second floor, as per code enforcement guidelines. But neighbors said they worry about parking issues as well as noise that could come from an outdoor stairwell leading to a door at the rear of the house.

Daniel O’Sullivan said the stairwell is located just 20 feet from his ground-floor bedroom and his tenant’s bedroom upstairs. He suggested Crosson cover the entire stairway in order to mitigate noise.

Crosson said he will charge up to $3,000 in rent each of the two dwellings, and O’Sullivan and other neighbors claimed such a price will not attract quiet families but large groups of tenants.

This will be “the most populated property on the block with 11 people,” O’Sullivan said.

Several times over the course of the hearing, the conversation drifted to the topics of rent prices and what type of tenants the properties would attract. Aikins objected, saying these issues were not for the zoning board to consider. Board attorney Kevin Kennedy expressed agreed.

Board chair Lauren Nicosia advised the body to table the hearing until the October 20 meeting so that residents could have more time to speak, and so that Aikins and Crosson could inquire with the borough’s fire marshal as to the feasibility of completely enclosing the outside stairwell.