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aff-housing-overlayThe overlay zones reflect areas of potential development and redevelopment, borough officials say. (Click to enlarge)

Red Bank moved closer to resolving issues with the state Council on Affordable Housing last night when the borough planning board approved a new overlay zone covering multi-unit residential development.

The new rules require developers who want to build five or more housing units at a density of six units per acre or more to set aside 20 percent of the units for low- and moderate-income buyers, said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

But a map delineating the areas where the rules would apply prompted questions from  Councilwoman and planning board member Sharon Lee, who said she was concerned that the zones were weighted toward the town’s West Side.

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rb-council-chambers2Two meetings per month at 6:30p would replace one at 5:30 and another at 7:30.

Once again, it’s time for the time issue.

Red Bank’s governing body is set to change the start times of its bimonthly meetings for the second time in five years. Only this time around, the one-party borough council finds itself in unanimous agreement on the proposal.

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28-leroyNew owner Charlie McCague says he spent $50,000 to restore the slate-and-copper roof of the structure and will preserve the clapboard exterior and interior layout.

After a vote that sharply divided the borough planning board, one of Red Bank’s most distinctive old mansions is going commercial.

The century-old Victorian at 28 LeRoy Place is to become an accountant’s office after a vote on the conversion split the board 5-4 Monday night.

Those in favor cited the fact that the structure is in a professional office zone and argued it would serve as a buffer between nearby homes and the “abomination” of the former Sun Bank at the corner of LeRoy and Broad Street.

Those opposed said they were concerned about “creeping commercialism” and a “domino effect” leading to other homes on Leroy being turned into offices on the strength of an approval.

“No,” said Councilwoman Sharon Lee, when called on to vote. “It constitutes an assault on our historic homes.”

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council-sessionCouncil members Michael DuPont, Ed Zipprich and Juanita Lewis heard details of the contract in a closed-door session Monday night before approving it in open session.

Red Bank officials last night approved a collective bargaining agreement that will boost the hourly pay of blue-collar and clerical workers  by three percent.

Because the raises will be paid only for the second half of this year, Mayor Pasquale Menna said the bump was effectively 1.5 percent for the 70 or so affected workers.

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City centreThe City Centre strip mall at Maple Avenue and West Front Street is one of five properties under common ownership that will see lower tax bills.

The Red Bank Council last night greenlighted settlements of five tax appeal lawsuits, but only after a lengthy closed-door session that left members of the governing body clearly dispirited.

"Yes, under duress," Councilman Ed Zipprich said after a long pause when called on to vote on the first of the batch. He repeated the phrase each time he voted, as did Councilwoman Kathleen Horgan.

The votes represented a win for landlord John Bowers and other stakeholders in the five commercial properties, knocking down the net assessments on the group by $1.6 million, or 8.6 percent.

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Buona seraBuona Sera’s outdoor dining arrangement on Maple Avenue, as seen from the corner of Monmouth Street.

They’re back, this time with the blessing of the Red Bank mayor and council.

We’re talking about new outdoor tables at Buona Sera Ristorante, a setup that is the target of frequent pedestrian complaints.

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Noble prownCommunity center proponents Peter Noble, president of the Red Bank Board of Ed, and David Prown after Monday's borough council session, which ran for almost three hours, as suggested by the clock in the background.

After nearly three months of relative silence, borough officials reopened discussion last night on whether Red Bank should create a community center for adolescents and teens.

This time, there was more talk than in the past about the need for a swimming pool and gymnasium, two elements that officials acknowledge may be far beyond the ability of taxpayers to support.

Though the question of how to proceed dominated what turned out to be a nearly three-hour-long meeting, no decision was reached.

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SovereignSovereign Bancorp’s Broad Street branch got a reduction in its tax bill.

Assorted items and actions from Monday night’s Red Bank Council meeting:

• The council approved a tax appeal settlement that reduced the assessment on the Sovereign Bank property at Broad Street and East Bergen Place by almost $189,000, to $1.799 million, for tax years 2007 and 2008.

Also approved was a settlement regarding Sutton Commons apartments on Branch Avenue, which will see a $338,000 drop in assessed value, to $3.69 million.

Here are the resolutions: Download 09-62
and Download 09-63

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BurnhamCindy Burnham on the between-names property last year.

Having safeguarded a borough-owned riverfront property from sale and possible development last year, Cindy Burnham went to the Red Bank Council earlier this week hoping to get quick approval for a name for the parcel:

River Cove Waterfront Path.

Burnham says the site was identified as ‘River Cove’ on deeds she uncovered as part of her research into the history of the site. The ‘path’ part connotes the walkway Burnham and other volunteers hacked out of the weeds at the site to the bank of the Navesink River — the only place in the borough where someone can get direct and easy access to the waterway.

Her aim was to get a quick OK for the name and clearance to erect a sign and two benches on the property in time for a self-imposed April deadline — an opening ceremony at the start of the kayaking and canoeing season.

But Burnham’s efforts turned to evident exasperation, and later embarrassment, when the question was kicked over to the Parks & Rec committee for discussion and Councilwoman Juanita Lewis — the liaison to the committee — suggested letting the children of Red Bank take a crack at coming up with a name.

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KolberGeorge Kolber speaks; Councilman Art Murphy listens.

Throwing a possible speed bump in the path of the Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County, the owners of the recently repurposed former PS 5 on Drs. James Parker Boulevard last night asked the Red Bank Council not to turn the borough-owned building next door into a community center.

At just 4,800 square feet, the building cannot reasonably accommodate all the programs that the Boys and Girls Club — the leading contender to run such a center — has proposed installing there, they said.

Moreover, the location, at the busy corner of Bridge Avenue, with no parking available, makes the facility untenable for that use, George Kolber and Mike Simpson said.

Instead, Kolber and Simpson want to buy the structure, which has been vacant for more than a year, and turn it into a home for an oversubscribed Head Start program now based nearby at Calvary Baptist Church Mt. Zion House of Prayer on Catherine Street.

“A community center, while well-intended, is not the best use of this property,” said Kolber, a Middletown resident.

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DupontbagCouncilman Mike DuPont takes his lumps at Monday’s meeting.

Is the ordinance that wouldn’t die finally dead?

As he has repeatedly over the past ten months or so, Councilman Mike DuPont tried getting his ban on plastic bags passed by Red Bank’s governing body last night.

This time, even his fellow majority Democrats sat in deafening silence when called upon to second the proposal so it could be voted on.

The rebuke followed a PowerPoint presentation by DuPont that several food and plastics industry representatives ripped as factually inaccurate; a critique by a Broad Street merchant who claimed she’d been misled about the scope of the ordinance; and a scolding by a resident that the council was wasting its time on something so “petty.”

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Dupont_leeCouncilman Mike DuPont’s initiative got enough votes for introduction, including one from Councilwoman Sharon Lee, though she said she disagreed with its punitive thrust and could not support adoption.

A proposed ordinance that might have put Red Bank in a national spotlight by banning commonly-used plastic grocery bags got treated like a bag plastered to the grill of speeding truck last night.

A parade of speakers — including several from the food and packaging industries — rose to denounce it as wrongheaded in terms of economics, the environment and public policy. No one had much to say in favor of it except for its sponsor, and by the end of the debate, even he was saying that if nothing else, the bill had spurred discussion of the issue.

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Paul Ashton and his pet ferret, Flower, greet animal control guy Henry Perez.


Henry Perez doesn’t give up easily. After repeatedly knocking on an unassuming front door on Red Bank’s West Side, he takes an investigative look around and puts his ear to the door.

“I don’t hear barking,” he says, making a note on his clipboard, “but I don’t like the look of that ‘Beware of Dog’ sign.”

Perez waits, playing a game of chicken with whoever or whatever lurks behind the old wooden door. He slyly peers through windows, around porches and up driveways looking for the telltale signs: a wagging tail, a misplaced chew toy, some forgotten droppings.

Concerned neighbor? Scheming burglar? CSI Red Bank?

Nope. Meet Perez, the borough’s Animal Control Officer, midway through a town-wide pet census to license all cats and dogs from the Navesink to Newman Springs Road.

Today, Perez has invited redbankgreen along on the animal beat, and while there’s no answer at this house, he assures us he’ll be back.

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Ashes2“A disgrace,” Councilman Art Murphy says of the morning-after conditions on the sidewalk alongside Ashes.

Led by Councilman Art Murphy, the Red Bank Borough Council last came down with both feet on Ashes Cigar Club on Broad Street, refusing to renew the restaurant’s liquor license over a host of maintenance and other issues.

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Img_8646Councilwoman Grace Cangemi says residents should have warnings before nearby hydrants are flushed, resulting in discolored water flowing through taps.

Some highlights from last night’s bimonthly meeting of the Red Bank council:

TEACHERS OF THE YEAR: In addition to primary school teacher Pat Moss, who was spotlighted here yesterday, this year’s honorees were middle school third-grade teacher Stacy Curcio; third-grade teacher Matt Strippoli of the Red Bank Charter School, and social studies teacher (and Red Bank native) Steve Johnson of Red Bank Regional.

AUDIT: Independent auditor Dave Kaplan gave his annual assessment of the borough’s finances and record-keeping, both of which he finds in good shape, though with four “relatively minor” cautions, one of which centers on the timely approval of council minutes. (Until last night, the borough clerk’s office was more than a year behind in getting the minutes of meetings together; now, the most recent minutes approved are from the July 9, 2007 session.)

Kaplan noted also that tax collections last year slipped a tad, to 97.09 percent from 97.99 percent, which he attributed to economic conditions. “People are just a little slower in paying their taxes,” he said.

BOATS AND CARS: There was a discussion of a request regarding parking on Union Street from the Monmouth Boat Club. As is somewhat common at council meetings, the agenda gave no hint of what the boat club had asked for, and nobody on the council bothered to fill the audience in, but it seemed to involve the removal of or deactivation of parking meters.

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Img_4243The parking lot in the foreground and adjacent river access are no longer under consideration for sale, Red Bank officials have confirmed.

A combination of public opposition and anemic support have forced Red Bank officials to drop a proposal to sell a riverside lot at the north end of Maple Avenue, Councilwoman Kathy Horgan tells redbankgreen.

“There will be no appraisal, and nobody’s getting paid for an appraisal,” Horgan says. “The property won’t be sold. It’s not going to happen.”

She says she conferred with Mayor Pasquale Menna on the matter today, and he agrees the issue is a dead one.

As first reported by redbankgreen, the sale idea was floated in a closed session of council as a possible way to plug a budget hole that threatens to drive up the local portion of property taxes by 20 percent later this year.

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Img_4241The borough council ordered up an appraisal on the disused borough parking lot at the foot of Maple Avenue last month, with an eye toward a possible sale.

Pushback on Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna’s plan to sell a disused plot of riverfront borough land has begun.

Both today’s Asbury Park Press and this week’s Hub have stories about citizen efforts to derail the idea. And they’ve won support not only from the two Republicans on the six-member borough council, but from at least one Democrat, the Hub reports.

Larry Higgs of the Press features Fair Haven resident and Red Bank property owner “Cindy Barton,” who’s pictured sitting in her kayak on the property and wants to see the tract used as a boat launch. [We think Higgs means the woman identified in the Hub as Cindy Burnham; property records don’t show anyone named Barton owning property in either town, but Cynthia Burnham owns one in each.]

“It’s 50 feet (on the riverfront), but it’s 50 feet more of riverfront property that Red Bank residents have to enjoy,” said Barton, a Fair Haven resident who also owns a house in Red Bank. “I’m asking residents to come to the next council meeting to voice their opinions in support of saving this last piece of riverfront property.”

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Today’s Sunday Star-Ledger has an extensive piece about the black activist journalist T. (Timothy) Thomas Fortune and the effort to save his longtime Red Bank home from the wrecking ball — or, as the article’s author puts it, “from predatory developers.”

The story’s not online; so far, it appears only in the print version’s Perspective section.

Authored by Claire Serant, a journalism professor at St. John’s University, the article notes that Fortune was born a slave in 1856, wrote for the white-owned New York Sun — “which was no small feat in the late 1800s” — and helped found a predecessor organization to the NAACP.

He also founded three national newspapers. One of them, the New York Age, “was the most widely read black newspaper of the era,” Serant writes. And he used the term “Afro-Americans” to denote black people at the time when ‘colored’ and ‘Negro’ were the standards.

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Img_2805Yard-sale proponent Audrey Oldoerp.

For a long time, South Street’s Audrey Oldoerp wondered aloud why towns such as Belmar and Atlantic Highlands had annual or even semi-annual yard sales that embraced every street and home, but Red Bank didn’t.

Moreover, with each passing year, Oldoerp saw community calendars spotted with events meant to attract visitors to the downtown — sidewalk sales, jazz festivals, road races and Christmas tree lightings — but litle or nothing designed specifically for the people who live here.

It irked her, and she said so, apparently often enough that her husband, Tim Blankley, suggested that instead of grousing, perhaps she should do something about it.

So for the past year or so, Oldoerp has been on a quest, trying to figure out how a townwide yard sale might happen here and navigating the bureaucracy of local government. And last night, though some possible obstacles were thrown in her path, she moved the idea into the public realm.

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With plans to demolish the old municipal incinerator stalled by concerns over soil contamination, Red Bank officials last night diverted $117,000 in Monmouth County grant money from the project to the reconstruction of tiny Bassett Place.

According to Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels, the redeployment of Community Development Block Grant funding was suggested by county planning board officials when it became clear that an extensive environmental review and possible cleanup of the incinerator site would be necessary.

“Unfortunately, due to many environmental conditions that were detected, there were concerns from the county that they could not go ahead” with funding of the demolition, Sickels told the council.

But “they did say that the would reserve the money for another project that we might have,” he said.

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Rb_councilwomenCouncilwomen Sharon Lee, Grace Cangemi and Kathy Horgan share a laugh after Tuesday’s goverment reorganization in Red Bank.


For the first time in its century of existence, the Red Bank Borough Council has three women as members.

Newcomer Kathy Horgan joined Democratic running mate Sharon Lee and Republican Grace Cangemi at the council table for yesterday’s government reorganization session. That gave the governing body an even 3-3 split between women and men.

“It’s the year of the woman,” said Councilman Mike DuPont, who added that he was happy for the sake of his infant twin daughters that the council was so balanced.

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A recent string of burglaries and shootings in Red Bank evoked mixed reactions at a West Side Community Group neighborhood watch meeting last night, with some residents praising police efforts and others saying they feel unsafe.


“I was born and raised here. I never felt vulnerable before,” said Connie Festa Aparicio, owner of Salon 340 on Shrewsbury Avenue, who said her Catherine Street home was burglarized this week. “I don’t know how to protect my home and business.”

“My block has turned into a tenement situation,” she said. “I was gone for two hours and I was hit. It took them 10 minutes. The neighbors called (police), but he jumped off the roof (before they got there). It’s scary.”

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A 3-3 council split over the $47,000 cost of water utility equipment led Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna to cast a rare tiebreaker vote last night.

With that, the council approved a change order that will allow for the installation of a 39-foot diameter cover for an open-air, pre-treatment water clarifier at the Chestnut Street well.

Departing Councilman RJ Bifani, who did not seek re-election last week, chided the three opponents, including fellow Democrat Michael DuPont, for their positions. “You’re all wrong” on the issue, he said.

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Red Bank Democrats appear to have held their 4-2 council majority with narrow wins Tuesday by Council President Sharon Lee, who bagged a second term, and Zoning Board member Kathleen Horgan.

But Democratic newcomer Ed Zipprich apparently didn’t have enough juice to nudge Grace Cangemi from the seat she’s held as an appointee since March. Uncertified figures have Cangemi beating Zipprich by 59 votes for the right to finish out the term begun by Kaye Ernst, who resigned and moved out of state in January.

The closeness of the race was reminiscent of last year’s finale for mayor and council, in which Cangemi was bested by Mike DuPont by absentee ballots. A recurrence of that seemed unlikely this morning.

“Last year, it swung by 20 votes,” Cangemi said as she awaited the arrival of Jennifer Beck, upset winner in the 12th district Senate race, at the Dublin House early today. “I can’t imagine it swinging by 60 votes this time. We just don’t cast that many absentee votes in Red Bank.”

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