By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank-based nonprofit housing provider HABcore won approval Thursday night for an expansion plan that would triple the size of a home it owns on the West Side.
The zoning board unanimously OKd the plan to add four apartments to what’s now a two-family house on River Street after several borough residents spoke in favor of it and no objections were raised.
HABcore, which has owned the property since 1992, provides permanent housing to homeless families, veterans and others in need, with a total of 300 clients spread across properties in Monmouth and Ocean counties, according to testimony by executive director Steve Heisman in April.
Unlike the boarding house HABcore operates on South Pearl Street, where 21 clients live under supervision and receive meals, the River Street property is for those who qualify for independent living, he said.
Over 26 years, the site has generated no noteworthy complains to police, attorney John Anderson III told the board.
The organization, a spinoff of borough-based Lunch Break, proposed to create four independent-living units, housing one occupant apiece, in a new structure behind the existing house, which currently has five residents. The plan needed a number of variances, including one that would allow the new units at just 576 square feet of living space, where the borough requires a minimum 900 square feet.
Attorney John McMahon, representing Cherokee Realty and its principal, Jay Wolkind, owner of two nearby properties, had challenged the application on multiple grounds in April. But Thursday night, he asked only that the board seek a deed restriction, under which any variances granted would be rescinded if HABcore sells the property, requiring the buyer to reapply for them.
Heisman agreed to the stipulation.
Speaking in favor of the proposal were borough residents Robert Neff, a Marine Corps veteran who said HABcore supports veterans “who were not so lucky;” Bridge Avenue property owner Gary Carpenter, who called it “a great project;” and former Tower Hill Presbyterian Church Pastor Theresa Swenson, who spoke of a relative who lives in HABcore housing in Ocean Grove.
“It’s really been life-changing for him,” she said.
“A lot of us are one paycheck away from” needing the services of an organization like HABcore, board chairwoman Lauren Nicosia said in moving the plan for adoption.