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RED BANK: DRIVE-THRU CHANGE SAILS THRU

rassas-7-052213-500x375-7408685The change will not apply to a proposed Walgreen’s store at the former site of Rassas Buick, officials said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_01-220x161-3262222A change to Red Bank’s law on drive-thru businesses got quick service Wednesday night.

Setting aside opposition by the lawyer for a proposed Walgreen’s pharmacy and by Coffee Corral owner Russ Crosson, the council gave unanimous approval to a zoning change that requires new drive-thrus to be located 100 feet from a residential zone.

Officials said the law would have no impact on the Walgreen’s application pending at the planning board and scheduled for a public hearing on September 19 because the proposal was filed before the effective date of the amendment.

Still, Aaron Rassas, who owns the Broad Street site on which Walgreen’s hopes to build a 14,200-square-foot drugstore with a drive-thru was in the audience, accompanied by lawyer Marty McGann.

Rassas told redbankgreen he wanted to “hear the tenor” of the council’s discussion of the change. And what did he hear? “That they were unanimous,” he said.

Prior to the vote, McGann appealed to the council not to adopt the change. Because of its small size, he said, Red Bank has many commerical properties that abut residential zones. Disqualifying them from having drive-thrus, he said, would create hardships for their owners, as well as for some customers of future banks, fast-food restaurants and dry cleaners.

In particular, senior citizens, the handicapped, moms with young kids or shoppers with pets in their cars would be affected, he said.

“Is the issue noise?” McGann asked. “Because if it’s noise, there’s other ways to regulate drive-thrus.”

Crosson, who has withdrawn an application with the town to add a horseshoe pit and other amenities to his Coffee Corral store on Drs. James Parker Boulevard and Shrewsbury Avenue, said he still might want to attract a bank with a drive-thru to a vacant part of his property or create a drive-thru for coffee service.

The amendment, he said, “would be a difficult one for me.”

But Councilman Mike DuPont called the change “well thought out” and said it “achieves the purpose it means to achieve.”

Councilman Art Murphy noted that two banks with drive-thrus at Broad Street and East Bergen Place abut residential properties. In hanging the law as it applies to future busineses, he said, “a hundred feet sounds good but you just killed the cow altogether.”

Still, Murphy joined in approving the change.

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