By SARAH KLEPNER
The 76-room Hampton Inn would be built at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper Bridge, at the northern gateway to town, on the former site of an Exxon gas station. A series of combative hearings on the plan that began in August, 2011 ended nearly a year later with a ruling the structure was too tall.
With zoning rules since amended by the borough council to accommodate the building’s height, the start of round two brought out familiar adversaries and one new one who, if she was present, did not announce herself or her interest.
Environmentalist Stephen Mitchell was present, this time without the aid of Ron Gasiorowski, the lawyer who represented him last time but got paid by the owners of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel on Hope Road in Tinton Falls. Instead, Gasiorowski said he was representing a new client: real estate agent Angela Agazzi, a Wallace Street resident. It was not clear if Agazzi was among the dozen or so members of the audience at the hearing, which last two and a half hours.
Board member Dan Mancuso recused himself because he and Agazzi both work for the same agency, Coldwell Banker, in Rumson.
In response to questions from Hampton Inn lawyer Marty McGann, Gasiorowski said he is still getting paid by the DoubleTree’s owners.
With the height debate that bounced between the planning and zoning boards resolved pending litigation over the height-rule change not withstanding Mitchell turned his attention to stormwater management when give a chance to question Rich Kenderian of Maser Consulting, the engineer for hotel developer Rbank Capital.
“Is this this site considered a major development with respect to storm water?” he asked.
“No,” Kenderian replied. “”It’s less than an acre of disturbance.”
“It looks like you’re disturbing the whole site,” Mitchell replied, also noting that there appears to be more than a quarter-acre of new impervious surface.
“If it’s determined that they’re disturbing more than an acre, how would that be handled?” Mitchell asked borough engineer Christine Ballard, of T&M Associates. If the project constitutes a major development, different rules by the state Department of Environmental Protection would apply, Mitchell said.
Ballard said she would calculate the disturbance entailed. Noting that the DEP will also make a determination, Ballard a added that there are “additional requirements for water on-site and how it’s handled, and reductions of on-site collections of rainwater. There’s a whole laundry list. We have 10 pages in our ordinance.”
“I hope you have this in order next time we meet,” said board chair John Cash, addressing the applicant.
“There are a lot of engineering questions here,” added board attorney Michael Leckstein.
Kenderian’s review of the plan also spotlighted public access to the Navesink River, which he said would be enhanced by the installation of wheelchair-accessible ramps and a boardwalk. In consultation with the borough, he said Rbank plans to use slope-stablizing technology called ArmorFlex, a mat anchored by concrete and steel cables that allows grass to grow through it.
A guests-only dock is planned, Kenderian said, acknowledging that the applicant would require the borough to grant access through an easement it holds along the waterfront.
“If we get that far,” said board member and Mayor Pasquale Menna.
The site plan as presented included both left and right turns from the site onto Route 35, eliciting strong objections from board member Guy Maratta.
“I can’t see it, having people cross three lanes when cars are coming across the bridge at 60 miles an hour” to head north on Route 35, Maratta said.
McGann was quick to acquiesce. “We’re not going to do it,” he said. “It will be right-turn only. That issue can be put to rest tonight.”
Kenderian also described the planned landscaping, which includes roughly 300 plants, using 20 different species. Board member and Councilman Ed Zipprich asked if a “green roof” a method of landscaping at roof level which improves the building’s energy efficiency had been considered. Kenderian replied that he thought the roof was too small.
“We’re encouraging them, actually,” Menna said. McGann said he would talk to his client.
Kenderian pointed out that the LED [light-emitting diode] lighting planned for the site, in addition to being in “architectural harmony with what Red Bank’s been using, is an extreme energy-saving measure.”
Ballard said the planned parking space sizing, at seven feet in width, is too small, per borough ordinance, which calls for eight feet at minimum.
McGann suggested Rbank might request a design waiver.
“Only if you’ll have expert testimony about how people are going to get out of their cars,” said Menna.
The hearing ended at 10 p.m. during Gasiorowski’s cross-examination of Kenderian. The next one is scheduled for August 19.