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RED BANK: NEW HPC EXPECTED ON AGENDA

The borough’s Washington Street Historic District, the location of many applications the HPC reviews, was created in 2009. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

See UPDATE below

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topicAfter three months of inactivity, Red Bank’s Historic Preservation Commission is expected to get a re-start this week.

At its semimonthly meeting scheduled for Thursday night, the council plans to appoint new and returning members to the commission, Councilperson Kristina Bonatakis, said last week.

The council will also begin workshopping a revised historic preservation ordinance, she said.

Kristina Bonatakis served on the HPC prior to her election to the council in May. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

The HPC was the only advisory committee not immediately revived when the governing body that was elected in May launched the “council-manager” era in early July. Mayor Billy Portman said at the time that he and other council members were “not quite sure which direction” the HPC was going in.

At a coffee-with-cops event last week, Bonatakis, who served on the HPC, told redbankgreen she expected the council to appoint a mix of new and returning members to the commission Thursday, though she declined to say who they would be.

“We actually had a lot of folks raise their hand using our volunteer interest form, so we tapped some of that,” she said.

Bonatakis said it was particularly important to “make sure that we have all parts of town represented, as well as people who’ve previously shown their interest.”

The historic preservation ordinance, meantime, is expected to incorporate recommendations by attorney Michele Donato, who has advised Cape May City and other municipalities.

Before the commission was mothballed by the change in government, the HPC was in the process of drafting proposed amendments to the ordinance to bolster its standing in land-use cases, incorporating Donato’s advice that Red Bank adopt design standards to establish which types of renovation work require HPC perusal and which can be fast-tracked to bypass it.

“There was a lot of progress made” on the ordinance before the work was halted, Bonatakis said. “We have, we believe, everything we need to pull together a comprehensive ordinance, with, I think, vastly improved language about the scope and the proactive activities that we want to see the commission engaged in.”

While design guidelines are being drafted, discussed and adopted, Bonatakis said the HPC should ideally be restarted as an advisory body to the planning and zoning boards. Meantime, she said, planning Director Shawna Ebanks told her that no pending applications are being held up in the commission’s absence.

Neither the council’s meeting agenda nor the draft ordinance were available early Tuesday. The session is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at borough hall, 90 Monmouth Street, with remote participation available via Zoom.

UPDATE: These matters were not included on the council agenda published later Tuesday. From Bonatakis: “The appointments and movement on the new ordinance are somewhat linked. Regrettably, we aren’t ready with the latter so the former is also delayed. However, I’m confident that the extra time is well spent to define the right Commission for Red Bank.”

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