hampton inn 062016Architect Lou Silverstein with a rendering of the proposed hotel, at center above, as seen from the Middletown side of Cooper’s Bridge. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


The developer of a proposed Hampton Inn hotel that’s been mired in zoning reviews and lawsuits for five years returned to Red Bank’s planning board after an extended absence Monday night.

The purpose? An informal presentation. A “coming attractions” preview of amended plans, in the words of the board’s attorney.hampton inn 073014The seven-story, 76-room hotel would be built on the former site of an Exxon filling station at Route 35 and Rector Place, at the foot of Cooper’s Bridge. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

“It’s been such a long time, we thought we’d come back and advise you that we will be back” to start hearings anew, said Marty McGann, attorney for the applicant, Rbank Capital, of Old Bridge, which first filed to build the hotel in 2011.

Plans for the structure are largely unchanged, said the project’s new engineer, Jason Fichter, who was brought in after the last one, Maser Consulting, was hired in January as the borough’s engineering consultant for major projects, creating a conflict of interest.

The seven-story, 76-room facility would sit at the borough’s northern gateway,  at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper’s Bridge, on the site of a former Exxon filling station.

Among the changes Fichter spotlighted were a single entrance and exit driveway on Route 35, near the bridge, that will allow for right turns only, both into and out of the site. Documents filed last November indicated that the hotel was seeking permission from the New Jersey Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over Route 35, to create a left-turn-in lane from the northbound side of the highway.

A boardwalk running along the Navesink River waterfront of the site will be accessible by the general public from the sidewalk out front, he said.

No height variance will be needed, as the structure will come in at less than the maximum allowed, said Fichter. A zoning amendment that changed the height limits prompted some of the litigation that interrupted the earlier hearings.

The plan includes parking for 75 vehicles, or three fewer than the borough requires, Fichter said.

Given that the presentation was informal, board attorney Mike Leckstein cautioned board members not to venture any opinions aloud, and most of the discussion centered on a request by vice chairman Dan Mancuso that all drawings submitted as evidence include rooftop HVAC systems, as well as the stair and elevator systems that would top the structure.

Asked when he and his client would return for a formal hearing, McGann replied, “we’re ready,” but later clarified the answer to indicate that Rbank is ready to file its new plan, which must undergo . review before a hearing date can be scheduled.