RED BANK: YNGSTROM BLASTED FOR COMMENTS

erik yngstrom 031716Erik Yngstrom at the March zoning board meeting at which he made the motion to reject development plans for 55 West Front Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Election_2016_PlainRed Bank Councilman Mark Taylor says Democratic council candidate Erik Yngstrom should resign from the zoning board for calling a controversial effort to bypass a board decision “fishy.”

In a press release issued Friday, Taylor accused Yngstrom of using his board position “as a platform to make several inappropriately political comments in an effort to further his own Council candidacy.”

mark taylor 010216 1Democrats Kathy Horgan, left, and Ed Zipprich once again voted with independent Cindy Burnham, right. (Photos above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

At Wednesday’s semimonthly council meeting, Yngstrom spoke during the public comment session and identified himself as a zoning board member before criticizing the latest in a series of of efforts, led by fellow Democrat Mayor Pasquale Menna, to clear the way for development of a 35-unit apartment complex rejected by the zoning board in March.

At issue was a proposed plan for 55 West Front Street that the council was sending to the planning board for comment under a recently adopted “non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment” ordinance. Here’s the plan: 2016-23 ATTACHMENT.PDF)

If ratified by the planning board and, ultimately, the council, the would-be developers would have another shot at getting their project approved, this time by the planning board, which has lower standards for approval criteria.

On Wednesday, Yngstrom said there was “never any support from the public for this project” at the zoning board hearing in March, and defended the board’s decision as based on testimony, evidence and other factors.

The council’s effort to negate that decision “seems a little fishy to me,” he said. “We made a decision on the zoning board, and I hope the council sticks with it, because that’s what we saw fit.”

Here’s Taylor’s press release:

Red Bank Councilman Mark Taylor called for the resignation of Erik Yngstrom from the Borough’s Zoning Board, following Yngstrom’s attempt to politicize his position at Wednesday’s Council meeting. At the meeting, Yngstrom took to the microphone to denounce a potential development project on the blighted, vacant lot located at 55 West Front Street in downtown Red Bank, by saying the project “feels a little fishy to me.”

In response to the blatantly political comments, Councilman Taylor said:

“At Wednesday’s Council meeting, in violation of his sworn public duty as a Zoning Board Member, Red Bank newcomer Erik Yngstrom used his position as a platform to make several inappropriately political comments in an effort to further his own Council candidacy. The board on which he serves is intended to be a quasi-judicial body, with members whose judgments must be free from the taint of self-interest.

Yngstrom denounced the 55 West Front Street project by mumbling ‘someone must know someone’ and that the project ‘feels a little fishy to me.’ Despite the overwhelming support for the project by residents and business owners in attendance, Erik went on to ask, ‘What good is the zoning board, if you can just go to the Council to override our decision?’

 What is more disturbing than Erik’s lack of vision is his demonstrated ignorance regarding New Jersey’s redevelopment laws and their purpose which, as a member of our Zoning Board, we would hope he would embrace.

The Council’s action reflects the vision of the redevelopment process that has been used in numerous “Main Streets” in downtowns throughout New Jersey. This process puts the decision in the hands of Red Bank’s elected officials, who are accountable to the voters, and requires these officials to obtain approval of the Planning Board before acting on the redevelopment.  Additionally, Councilwoman Schwabenbauer provided a clear overview during the meeting of what the redevelopment plan is and what it is not, and Councilman Whelan walked everyone through the process, including the involvement of the Planning Board and requirements for compliance with Red Bank’s master plan.

Our Zoning Board does a terrific job, and Mr. Yngstrom’s overtly political actions should not be considered representative of the views of the rest of the board.  Not only does Erik’s actions show he is unfit and unqualified to be a Councilman, but I am also calling for his immediate resignation from the Zoning Board. I have spent my entire life in Red Bank and reject this unprecedented move by the ambitious, politically driven newcomer, Erik Yngstrom. Red Bank deserves better.”

Here it is: 2016-23 ATTACHMENT.PDF)

Yngstrom could not be reached for comment Friday.

The issue of clearing a new path to possible approval for the apartment project has split the council, with three Republicans, including Taylor, consistently in favor, and the two Democrats and lone independent opposed. Menna, who only votes in the event of a tie, has broken several deadlocks with votes in favor.

Yngstrom’s running mate for two council seats in the November election is Councilwoman Kathy Horgan, who along with fellow Democrat Councilman Ed Zipprich has been critical of the Menna-led effort. Zipprich said in August that the effort “reeks of spot zoning.”