By JOHN T. WARD
After a five-month layover that included meetings with neighbors and extensive revisions, developer Ray Rapcavage returned to the zoning board Thursday with his plans for a greenmarket and 20 homes on the edge of downtown Red Bank.
But the first round of questions from the public indicated that neighbors still consider the project too big.
Dubbed ‘Renaissance Village,’ the RayRap plan calls for a grocery store topped by two apartments, instead of a yoga studio, as initially proposed, fronting on Harding Road. The plan also includes eight townhouses along Hudson Avenue, where 10 were previously proposed, and 10 condos on Clay Street.
The townhouses would replace single- and two-family homes RayRap owns, and the condos would displace a row of garages. About half the footprint for the market building is on the site of a former gas station that is still being monitored for spill-remediation purposes – and could continue for another five years or more, according to RayRap’s attorney, Marty McGann.
The biggest change to the plan since the lone, prior hearing in August: the back-to-back condos and townhouses would now share a 35-foot-wide interior driveway, entered from Clay Street, that residents would use to access ground-level garages from the rear of the residential structures. The original plan had garages on the fronts of those buildings, and the change eliminated 18 curb cuts, Rapcavage has said.
Following testimony by an engineer and the project’s architect, zoning board Chairwoman Lauren Nicosia opened the hearing to questions from the audience. Tony Sposaro, a Hudson Avenue resident who is also a land-use lawyer, pressed the RayRap team on why, if they were tearing down all existing structures on the site and “starting from scratch,” they couldn’t come up with a plan that met all requirements for open-space and other zoning requirements.
Engineer Andy Comi replied that, practically speaking, the market building “could be made smaller.”
Sposaro asked how much of the 8,600-square-foot market building would have to be eliminated in order for it to be built without parking variances.
“One-third of the building would have to be taken off to make parking adequate,” Comi said.
Nicosia deferred some of Sposaro’s questions for a witness who has not yet testified on the operation of the store. Among the questions: where are the shoppers going to park, and will the store use shopping carts?
The hearing was scheduled to resume on February 5.