By JOHN T. WARD
Neighbors and other residents expressed thanks to Dr. Negin Griffith for proposing to renovate rather than raze the building, at 76 East Front Street. But several claimed that moving the access driveway off East Front and onto an adjoining empty lot at the corner of Washington Street would increase car traffic through the historic district neighborhood.
Griffith, a reconstructive specialist who said she spends most of her time in the operating room at Riverview Medical Center, across the street from the structure, plans to relocate her office practice from Holmdel to the house, which has previously been used as an office.
The first floor would serve as her office, where she said she expects to see patients just one day a week. One of her three employees, her mother, would occupy the second-floor apartment along with her father. Between 25 and 38 patients might be seen that day, she said.
Griffith told the board she ignored advice to tear down the house and build something new. “It has great bones, with beautiful pocket doors,” she said. Her plan calls for a complete renovation, with the addition of an Americans With Disabilities-accessible wraparound porch.
The placement of the porch, into the area of the existing driveway, gave rise to a plan to use an easement through the adjoining property for a driveway off Washington to reach the parking lot behind the structure, said Griffith’s attorney, Jeff Ferrier.
That lot is owned by an LLC controlled by Griffith’s husband, Sean. An existing driveway apron about 10 feet from East Front Street would be abandoned, and the new driveway created at the south end of the vacant lot.
The driveway plan prompted a number of commenters to complain that it would put more cars on the narrow streets of the historic district.
“I don’t see how anyone can testify that there won’t be an impact of putting the driveway on Washington Street,” said Andy North, who lives on the street.
Ferrier said that while few patients might be expected to head in that direction,N egin would install a sign at the driveway exit advising motorists not to make right turns into the neighborhood.
At the suggestion of board members, the width of the driveway was shrunk to 20 feet, from 24, in order to increase the buffer between it and the property to the south, owned by Heather and Joe Revesz.
The couple thanked Negin for her concession, but Joe Revesz said “it’s still going to be like living next to a two-lane highway.”
Board members argued, however, that the placement would be safer than in its present location. The approval vote was unanimous.