By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank’s planning board shot down a proposal to convert the East Front Street Welsh Farms convenience store to a 7-Eleven Monday night.
The 6-o vote on a motion by borough Administrator Stanley Sickels was driven by one issue: the plan by the operator, Dina Enterprises, to keep the store that now closes at 10 p.m. open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Nearby residents had packed several hearings on the matter to object to the store expanding its hours of operation, citing adverse impacts on their quality of life as a result of all-night lighting, noise and security issues.
The decision follows the enactment last week by the borough council of an amended noise ordinance that prohibits businesses within 100 feet of residential zones from operating between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless they already do so.
Though that amendment appeared to target the Welsh Farms store, Mayor Pasquale Menna and members of the borough council said it did not.
In theory, the planning board might still have approved the conversion plan Monday night, because the amendment affected the borough’s police powers, not land use, Menna said.
Dina Enterprise’s lawyer, Philip San Filippo, had maintained throughout several hearings that the business has always had the right to operate after 10 p.m., an assertion he repeated before the board voted.
The store, and a filling station at the site, were approved in 1975 at separate hearings by the zoning and planning boards, and a resolution specifying conditions under which the business could operate “didn’t say a word about hours of operation,” San Filippo said, “nor did anyone at any of the three hearings.”
The gasoline station was removed in 2005.
Sickels, however, said a site plan submitted as part of the 1975 application indicated that the business would close by 10 p.m., and that officials at the time might have considered that a settled issue not worth noting in the conditions.
“I think the argument that it wasn’t in the resolution of conditions doesn’t hold water,” Sickels said.
San Filippo declined comment afterward on whether his client might challenge the borough in court.