RED BANK: ZONERS REJECT SHELL 7-ELEVEN

By SARAH KLEPNER

The likelihood of Red Bank getting a third 7-Eleven anytime soon melted like a Slurpee left on a dashboard Thursday night.

After 10 months, extensive testimony and textbook-quality legal briefs on zoning law, the borough zoning board unanimously denied an application for a 7-Eleven to replace an inactive car wash at the Shell gasoline station on Newman Springs Road at Shrewsbury Avenue.

Board attorney Kevin Kennedy spent nearly 30 minutes presenting points for the board to consider, including a letter dated the day before from engineering consultant T&M Associates that responded to late question from Monmouth County officials regarding the traffic aspect of the proposal.

“There were a myriad of issues and sub-issues, and facts which needed to be addressed, analyzed, and reanalyzed before the exact legal standards that we would employ could be identified,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy recommended the board use the criteria for a D variance, indicating change of use, which is more rigorous than the standard Shell owner Wasseem Chaudhary had sought.

The decision came quickly. Board vice chair Tom Williams stated his opposition to the plan, citing conflicting traffic studies presented by the applicant and on belhalf of Gulshan Ch’habra, the owner of the Exxon station across Shrewsbury Avenue from the site.

“I’m not convinced that it’s not too dense,” board chair Lauren Nicosia said of the proposal. “This plan would have a negative impact on the neighborhood. I’m not really happy about it.”

“I was truly excited about the corner looking spiffy with the new landscaping,” chimed in board member Deborah Marks. “But it’s too dense. It’s a safety hazard. The whole area is very congested. I’d be concerned about peoples’ safety.”

The whole board, plus both alternates, was present for the vote.