By JOHN T. WARD
Planning board testimony about a proposed 72-room hotel at the foot of Cooper Bridge in Red Bank was put off until mid-January Monday night after a lawyer for an objector raised a question about the structure’s height.
Ron Gasiorowski, representing Stephen Mitchell, says a borough ordinance limits the hotel to 50 feet, whereas the proposed Hampton Inn is 30 feet higher than that.
No public testimony was heard, however. Instead, after waiting more than 90 minutes through a hearing on another matter, Gasiorowski huddled at the front of the room with board attorney Michael Leckstein and Hampton Inn lawyer Marty McGann, after which McGann suggested the hearing be adjourned until January 18.
Afterward, Gasiorowski said an ordinance on the books limits the height of riverfront property to 50 feet above a point midway between Rector Place, which the hotel property adjoins, and the river.
“This is 80 feet,” he said.
Borough Engineer Christine Ballard said she was unaware of the provision and did not know how it might affect the Hampton Inn proposal. But she said it could conceivably result in the hotel needing a variance, and thus make the application a matter for the zoning board, where the standard of proof for applicants is higher.
Gasiorowski has already filed a lawsuit against the town claiming that the matter was improperly routed to the planning board. That suit is pending.
McGann, though, said that the hotel’s engineer’s had accounted for the height provision, and that he was confident the case would stay with the planning board, which began hearings on the hotel in August.
“He raised a very technical question,” McGann said of Gasiorowski. “I think we’re prepared to address it at the next meeting.”
The board also put off until January 18 testimony about a planned conversion of the Welsh Farms convenience store on East Front Street to a 7-Eleven store because the applicant, a board member said, “was not ready.” About a dozen residents had turned out to raise questions and objections.