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MENNA: CLOCK TICKING ON PARKING WAIVER

By JOHN T. WARD

A measure to boost business development in downtown Red Bank has had its intended effect and should probably end this summer, Mayor Pasquale Menna tells redbankgreen.

The temporary ordinance repeal, adopted in August, 2010, has helped spark a burst of activity so strong that “we may have a parking deficiency again soon,” Menna said.

The moratorium relieves developers whose projects require variances for parking deficiencies, based on formulas in the town’s land-use laws, to pay hundreds of dollars per parking space into a dedicated parking improvement fund. In order to qualify for the waiver, they have to get their building permits within six months of variance approval, and obtain certificates of occupancy within one year.

The change was effective through December 31, 2011, and was later extended by the borough council to June 30 of this year.

Menna raised the prospect of allowing the law to sunset at the borough planning board meeting Monday night in the context of Char Steakhouse’s plan to overhaul the former home of Ashes Cigar Bar on Broad Street.

A move by the council to decisively end the moratorium “probably will be soon,” he told Char owner Matteo Ingrao. Afterward, Menna declined to be more specific.

The moratorium “has to be brought up before June,” Menna said.

But he said that vacant stores and office spaces are rapidly filling up, with the potential for a parking shortfall to hit the East Side lots if buildings such as the structure at the corner of Broad and Monmouth streets, which is vacant except for a street-level branch of the Valley National Bank, are ever leased.

“The third floor at the old Natelson’s building is completely occupied,” he said of the space above the Urban Outfitters store, “and the second floor will be done soon.”

Char, a two-story restaurant with some 150 seats, expects to employ 25 to 40 people, Ingrao said, and has just a couple of parking spaces on the Mechanic Street side, including one for handicapped users.

Menna said no tally has been made by borough officials of how much has been waived in fees under the moratorium.

Nancy Adams, executive director of Red Bank RiverCenter, was not immediately available for comment on the moratorium.

The council meets tonight at 6:30 p.m., but there’s no mention of the moratorium on the agenda. Here’s the agenda:RB agenda 020812

Here’s the moratorium ordinance: Ordinance 2010-36

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