By JOHN T. WARD
Three weeks after it was panned by planning board members for sticking out like a sore thumb, a pharmacy proposed for Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank won approval Monday night.
The yet-to-be-named, independently owned pharmacy, which its owner said will sell medical products only, got the go-ahead after a redesign that replaced a proposed contemporary facade with with a more traditional one.
The pharmacy, with four upstairs residential units, is to be built on a vacant lot between a two-story apartment building and a restaurant on Shrewsbury Avenue. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
Architect Ed O’Neill, of SOME Architects, did both designs, and said the newer one featured a brick facade and changes to the roof slopes.
Third-generation druggist Ritesh Shah, who has shops in Holmdel, Howell, Keansburg, and Matawan, previously testified that the first-floor store will sell medical and personal care products only.
The project needed a host of variances, including one for a 16-space parking deficiency, with no parking provided onsite. The plan also calls for a three-story building in a zone that caps structures at 2.5 stories. But the law also permits two stories of residential use above first-floor retail, noted Shah’s lawyer, Meryl Gonchar.
The vote to approve the project, to be set on what’s now a vacant lot between Lino’s restaurant and an apartment building, was 7-2, with board members Dan Mancuso and Linda Cohen voting no.
The new facade, said Mancuso, “looks fantastic.” But he objected to a parking plan that relies entirely on street spaces for use by customers and delivery vehicles.
Other board members, however, voiced support for the pharmacy. Mayor Pasquale Menna said he was “glad this is coming on board, because a lot of people in the neighborhood don’t have cars and can’t afford taxis” to take them to drugstores elsewhere.
Noting that Shah had worked out an agreement to allow the store’s two employees to park at the nearby River Street Commons senior housing complex, Menna said that “the applicant has done what it can regarding parking.”
No one from the audience spoke on the plan.
Shah’s company, Asha Realty LL, paid Matrix II $131,000 for the lot last October.