The proposed Rivermark building shown above was modified before approval. (Rendering by Michael Monroe. Click to enlarge.)


Red Bank’s planning board gave swift approval Monday night to a proposed commercial and residential building at a key downtown corner after it was downsized.

The ‘tail’ portion of the Rivermark property approaching the Navesink River will be offered to the borough for free, Forman’s lawyer told the planning board. (Click to enlarge.)

Answering concerns expressed at a board meeting last month that the proposed Rivermark project, at the northeast corner of Maple Avenue and West Front Street, was too large, architect Michael Monroe removed six feet of width from the building, he said Monday night.

The change did not affect the number of parking spaces planned for an underground garage on the site — 43 — but did reduce by two the number of spaces that ordinances indicate the building should have, to 46, Monroe said.

The plan calls for a four-story, 26,000-square-foot building with ground-floor commercial space and eight luxury apartments. It would replace two long-vacant structures, one of them a former dentist’s office next door to the borough library.

Developer Mark Forman‘s attorney, Kenneth Pape, told the board his client has “offered to convey to the borough for no consideration” the so-called “tail end” of the property below a steep slope and adjoining the Navesink River.

Dating back to the 1990s, the board has sought easements from riverfront developers between Maple Avenue and Riverside Gardens park for a possible “Riverwalk” boardwalk. No action has been initiated to create the structure, however.

Former council member Cindy Burnham said the town should be wary of accepting the property, wetlands property that abuts the Maple Cove natural boat launch she was instrumental in creating.

Like Maple Cove, the Rivermark site “has a problem” with the invasive Japanese knotweed, a tough-to-eliminate plant resembling bamboo, Burnham said.

“The borough’s going to have to take that on if it accepts the donation,” she said. “It could be more trouble than it’s worth.”

Board chairman Dan Mancuso said decisions regarding the offer should be made by the borough council.

Pape also asked that the board, should it approve the project, state in its resolution that Forman would meet his obligation regarding an affordable housing contribution under whatever methods are in effect at the time he applies for permits. Rivermark’s obligation is 1.6 units, Pape said.

At present, the borough is involved in litigation over its affordable housing obligations, and Pape said he has learned that a possible settlement would might allow developers to satisfy their portions via the purchase of off-site housing or cash contributions.

“We’d like to wait to see what our options are when that settlement is in place,” Pape said.

The request was denied. Board attorney Michael Leckstein said Forman could revisit the issue if the law changes before he begins construction.

Mayor Pasquale Menna said Forman’s project was “sensitive to the constraints of the property” and would be “a wonderful addition to the streetscape.” The board’s approval was unanimous.

Forman told redbankgreen he expects to begin construction in 2019.