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RED BANK: PRESERVATION PANEL ON AGENDA

Historic Preservation Commission attorney Michele Donato, left, with Chairman Chris Fabricant in March. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topicThe future of Red Bank’s Historic Preservation Commission may come into focus when the borough council meets Thursday night.

Also on the agenda: proposed height limits on new construction along the Navesink River waterfront, and the settlement of a lawsuit over a parking lot issue.When the governing body launched the “council-manager” era with a raft of appointments in early July, one advisory committee was missing: the HPC. 

Mayor Billy Portman said at the time that he and other council members were “not quite sure which direction” the HPC was going in. “Right now, the HPC has been in this weird middle ground where it doesn’t have the authority to do what it wants to do, but it has a degree of autonomy.”

Earlier this year, the commission began drafting a proposed ordinance to bolster its standing in land-use cases. That process, which was not completed when the new council was sworn in July 1, was aimed revising the 2018 borough ordinance that purportedly gave the advisory body “teeth” but has proven “very wanting,” in the words of one member.

Thursday’s agenda lists a presentation by HPC attorney Michele Donato.

Also on the agenda, the council plans to:

• Introduce an ordinance amendment to set new building-height limits in the Waterfront Development Zone along Riverside Avenue.

At present, the maximum height in the zone ranges from 45 feet to 65 feet, depending on the natural ground elevation of the site in question. The amendment, as called for by the new Master Plan adopted earlier this year, would base the limit on the “average grade for the zone,” and set it at 50 feet, or five stories.

• Weigh the proposed settlement of a 2022 lawsuit brought by Diane Joy Realty, owner of the building that houses Better Housekeeping Shop appliance store at 44-46 Monmouth Street.

According to the proposed agreement, the borough’s makeover of the White Street parking lot in 2020 interfered with an easement to the back of the store. The settlement would restore the access and provide a $15,000 payment to the business.

• Adopt a $720,000 bond to cover water and sewer work and another for $547,950 for roadwork.

Here’s the full agenda. The council meets at 6:30 p.m. at borough hall, 90 Monmouth Street. Remote meeting participation is available via Zoom.

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