Ray Rapcavage, center above, with his wife, Suzanne, and Hudson Street resident Scott Broschart at the Five Corners site in 2014. Below, a detail of the latest proposal for the site. (Architectural rendering by David John Carnivale. Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Having been thwarted by the zoning board, developer Ray Rapcavage plans to ask the Red Bank council to designate his assembled properties on the edge of downtown as an “area in need of rehabilitation,” redbankgreen has learned.
If granted, the controversial label would enable Rapcavage to avoid a return trip to the zoning board with his revised plan, though he denies that’s his intent.
Rather, it would create a more “expeditious” route to possible construction on the half-block of properties he’s assembled on Harding Road between Clay Street and Hudson Avenue, Rapcavage said Monday.
“It seems like the fastest way to get before a board,” said Rapcavage, who in June revised his plan to call for 18 residences fronted by an English garden, after the earlier proposal for 22 units was rejected by the zoning board as “too dense.”
Though he unveiled his latest plan to redbankgreen, Rapcavage has not yet filed it in the form of an application with borough planning and zoning office, he said.
Rapcavage’s request comes two months after the council granted “area in need of redevelopment” status to 55 West Front Street after the zoning board rejected a plan for a 35-unit apartment building there in March. The designation has drawn criticism as akin to spot zoning, with two council members opposing it.
Rapcavage said he has asked borough officials to put his request for the designation on the council agenda for its next semimonthly meeting, scheduled for September 28. He has not yet received confirmation that it will be included, he said.
In order for the designation to become effective, both the council and planning board would presumably need to receive endorsements of the plan from outside consultants, as they did with the 55 West Front Street plan. A public hearing on the designation would be held, and the council would then formally have to approve it in a resolution.
Even still, Rapcavage would have to present his plan to the planning board for final approval, he said.
“I’m not trying to find a shortcut,” he said. “But the intent of the statute is that I’m able to take an application that seems to be well-received and just streamline the process. Obviously, if there was not a need for this type of statute, it would not exist.”
The site meets the criteria for “area in need of rehabilitation” designation, Rapcavage said, because it contains lots that are “obsolescent,” including a vacant former gas station property and a row of sheds and garages along Clay Street. “The properties are at that standard,” he said.
Back in July, Rapcavage asked the council for an ordinance change to allow builders to construct units with up to three bedrooms without having to seek a use variance. That request went nowhere.
Separately, also in July, the council passed a resolution, without any public discussion beforehand, that designates a large swath of the downtown district as “in need of rehabilitation.” Rapcavage’s property was not included. Here are the relevant documents: RB Reso 16-190 071316 and RB Reso 16-190A 071316