A rendering displayed at the planning board depicts a public plaza on the Riverside Avenue side of the proposed apartment project. (Rendering by Arterial. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
Unanswered questions held up a planning board vote on one of the largest development plans in Red Bank history Wednesday night.
Among them: where will the poop deposited on the rooftop dog runs go?
The landscape plan for the site, above, shows the two buildings framing the parking lot of the nearby Colony House Apartments. Below, Bodman Avenue residents Beth Lucas and Ned Gaunt review the plans during a break in the hearing while Saxum professionals huddle in the foreground. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
The absence of the architect for developer Saxum Real Estate limited testimony to that of a landscape architect and a planner.
The Parsippany-based firm hopes to build a 210-unit apartment complex on the site of the former VNA headquarters on Riverside Avenue.
Among the questions posed by board members and neighbors who oppose the plan:
• What impact will a public plaza planned for the corner of Riverside Avenue and Bodman Place have on traffic sight lines, particularly for motorists trying to exit Bodman onto eastbound Riverside? (Landscape architect Dave Lustberg testified the plaza “won’t obstruct any views at all,” but pledged to bring schematics showing the sight triangles to the next board meeting, scheduled for September 16.)
• What measures if any will be taken to ensure that animal waste doesn’t flow from the two proposed rooftop dog runs into the Navesink River, located just a few hundred yards to the north of the site? (That’s a question for the architect, who is expected to attend the next meeting, said Saxum attorney Chad Warnken.)
• What can be done to save a London plane tree on Bodman Place that neighbor Susan Woodward claims is about 150 years old? (It has to go, Lustberg said.)
“I’d rather look at that tree than the concrete that’s coming,” said Woodward, who said she’s had a view of the tree from her home for 39 years.
Removal of the tree, said Warnken, complies with a redevelopment plan approved by the borough council last year. But Warnken’s citation of the agreement, not for the first time, drew a couple of rebukes from the dais.
“We know that,” board attorney Michael Leckstein told Warnken. But the board still has a review power, he said, adding that “if the public is concerned about a particular item, let’s get the facts and decide whether some accommodation can be done. And the answer can’t always be, ‘we comply.'”
“I’ve kind of had a bad taste in my mouth at that response,” said board member Lou DiMento, speaking more heatedly. “I think you should take some accommodation of what the board would like and what the town would like.”
Repeated references to compliance with the redevelopment plan, he told Warnken, “rub me the wrong way.”
Attorney Ron Gasiorowski, representing an adjoining property owner, pursued a line of inquiry with Lustberg over the wisdom of locating a public plaza so close to heavily-trafficked Riverside Avenue, which is part of Route 35.
In addition to the 210 rental units in two five-story buildings, Saxum’s plan calls for a 323-vehicle parking garage, 9,000 square feet of coworking space and a 2,350-square foot retail food space for a yet-to-be-signed tenant.
As part of the redevelopment pact, Saxum would provide 32 units of affordable housing.
Here’s the complete site plan: 176 Riverside Site Plan
And here are the architectural drawings: 176 Riverside Ave Architecturals
Here’s the applicant’s traffic report: 176 Riverside Traffic Study 041919
Here’s the review by the board’s planning consultant, Ed Herman: T&M Saxum report 070519