RED BANK: SUIT FILED OVER GARAGE HEIGHT

Cindy Burnham, seen here at a candidate’s forum last October, during her unsuccessful council re-election campaign. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1A group of Red Bank residents formed by former Councilwoman Cindy Burnham filed suit Monday to derail efforts to build a garage for at least 773 vehicles in the heart of town.

Burnham, who failed in her re-election bid as a Republican-turned-independent in November after one term, said although she supports the construction of a garage, the eight-story structure permitted under a redevelopment plan authorized by the council last week is “just too high.”

Opponents of the garage plan have hired attorney Ron Gasiorowski to represent them, Burnham said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Here’s the complaint, first reported by the Asbury Park Press, as filed by lawyer Ron Gasiorowski in Superior Court in Freehold: RRD v Borough 013017

Burnham also created a gofundme site for a group called “Residents 4 Responsible Development” last Wednesday, the same day the borough council authorized the issuance of a request for proposals, or RFP, by developers interested in building on the 2.3-acre municipal lot on White Street.

The group’s aim: to raise $15,000 in support of its “legal battle.” As of late Monday, the drive had raised $60, including $50 from a named resident and $10 from an anonymous donor.

The fundraising page says the group is “unincorporated,” though the lawsuit indicates the group has limited liability corporation status. An online search of the New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services did not show any records for the group late Monday afternoon.

Just four weeks out of office, Burnham told redbankgreen that the suit is “not about me.” She said the group she founded had a “handful” of members, though she declined to immediately identify them.

“I’m bringing the suit forward to empower residents,” she said. “This is a way to involve, engage residents who can’t get to the meetings” and agree that the redevelopment plan would allow for construction of a building they consider overly large.

Proponents of the plan, including Mayor Pasquale Menna and Councilman Mike Whelan, have repeatedly answered complaint about the possible size of the garage by saying that “there is no proposal.” Rather, they contend, the redevelopment plan and RFP are means of finding out what builders envision as economically viable, and that any proposal can be rejected by the council for any reason.

Last week, Menna called the RFP a “fluid document.”

In recent years, Gasiorowski has represented at least three plaintiffs in an ongoing effort to stop a proposed Hampton Inn hotel from winning borough approval on Route 35 at the foot of the Cooper’s Bridge. The next planning board hearing on that matter is slated for Monday, February 6.

That’s the same night the Red Bank Business Alliance, which supports the garage-building initiative, plans to hold a town hall-style meeting for residents and merchants to air concerns and comments on the possible garage. The event is slated for 7 p.m. Monday, February 6 at the borough middle school, at Harding Road and Branch Avenue.