Two River Theater founder Bob Rechnitz apparently can’t believe what he’s hearing as zoning board members detail their objections to his proposal.
Bob Rechnitz thought he had a can’t-miss idea.
Buy a single-family house on the West Side of Red Bank and rent it for a dollar a year to the nearby Two River Theater Company, which he founded, for use as temporary lodging for up to five visiting actors. Provide assurances about the character of the people who would stay at the house, and under what circumstances. Underscore its importance to the future of the $15 million theater in its drive to attract professional talent to its intimate stage, and to the cultural and economic vitality of Red Bank.
Through his attorney, Rechnitz repeatedly asserted that the boarding-house-like use would be in effect only as long as the house, at 81 Shrewsbury Avenue, was employed by the theater exactly as described.
Still, over the course of three hearings, Rechnitz’ proposal met resistance from the borough zoning board, from which he needed a variance.
While praising the theater itself, members of the board raised concerns about who would police the behavior of the actors; whether the property might be used a boarding house by a future owner; and whether it might someday end up owned by the non-profit theater itself, thus taking it off the tax rolls.
Last night, the plan won unanimous, if lukewarm, approval after a last minute stipulation by Rechnitz that he variance would only be in effect for two years. But the process appeared to have left the college-professor-turned-stage-director with a sour taste.
“I thought it was a slam-dunk,” he told redbankgreen afterward, clearly frustrated by the ordeal.