Architect Michael Simpson, below, addresses the Red Bank planning board about expanding the use of the former Fameabilia store on Monmouth Street to accommodate a restaurant. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)
By SARAH KLEPNER
A red Bank storefront that over the past 20 years has been a CPA’s office, a theater, a store selling Hollywood memorabilia and a long-empty shell now has permission to become a restaurant.
The Red Bank planning board approved Wadsworth Properties’ application Monday night for change of use at 42 Monmouth Street, which last saw use as the home of Fameabilia.
The building was last used by Fameabilia, which vacated five years ago. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)
The board’s main concern was trash storage. Architect and planner Michael Simpson explained that the plan was to store trash inside between pick-ups. But the idea met skepticism.
“I don’t know anyone in town who has made that work,” said board vice chairman Dan Mancuso. “I’d rather see you take some parking and use it for a trash enclosure.”
The parking variance granted allows the 162-seat restaurant a 41-space deficiency. Wadsworth attorney Marty McGann said that the site plan as proposed requires 45 spaces, while there are only four on-site. However, past parking variances for the site, when it housed the Royale Theater starting in 1997, have accommodated an 80-space deficiency, he said.
In 1989, when CPA firm Boynton and Boynton became the tenant, a 20-space variance was granted and the owner paid $850 per space into the borough parking fund, a payment which carries over to this application, he maintained.
Payments into the parking fund are currently suspended under a moratorium meant to encourage business development downtown.
Mayor Pasquale Menna noted that for Americans with Disabilities Act-compliance, one of the parking spaces had to be designated for handicapped access.
Addressing board concerns, McGann said, “We don’t have an issue. We can turn a space or two into an enclosure and add a handicapped spot.”
Alternate board member Jane Cohen raised a question about the evolving commercial circumstances on Monmouth Street.
“We should take into consideration that there is more space being used for restaurants than there used to be,” she said.
To which McGann replied, “We’d both be happy to see [this space] used for retail.”
Discussion also centered on a large tree near the back of the lot.
“Who’s tree is that?” Mancuso asked. “Its roots are wreaking havoc on the parking lot.”
McGann said it was not on the property, and Menna asked borough administrator Stanley Sickles to have the Department of Public Works take a look at it, while councilman Ed Zipprich noted that the tree might be on the Shade Tree Commission inventory.