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RED BANK: LOT OWNERS CAN NOW TRY AGAIN

55 w front 062016The vacant lot at 55 West Front Street, opposite Riverside Gardens Park. (Photo by Google. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Eight months after they were rejected by the Red Bank zoning board, the owners of a vacant lot in downtown Red Bank can now try again to win approval for a 35-unit apartment building on the site.

That’s the upshot of an ordinance adopted by the borough council Monday night after yet another tiebreaker vote by Mayor Pasquale Menna.

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RED BANK: 5-4 BOARD VOTE ADVANCES PLAN

55-w-front-aerial-101716A Google Maps sky view of the vacant lot at 55 West Front Street, opposite Riverside Gardens Park. (Photo by Google. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03By a 5-4 vote, the Red Bank planning board advanced a proposed ordinance that would give a  a thwarted developer another shot at building on a downtown lot.

The issue, concerning a former nursing home site at 55 West Street, prompted sharp disagreement among board members that mirrored divisions at recent council meetings, with proponents arguing the measure is needed to end a long vacancy and opponents calling it an “end-around” to a zoning board decision.

“It just stinks,” planning board member and former Councilman Art Murphy said of the measure.

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RED BANK: YNGSTROM BLASTED FOR COMMENTS

erik yngstrom 031716Erik Yngstrom at the March zoning board meeting at which he made the motion to reject development plans for 55 West Front Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Election_2016_PlainRed Bank Councilman Mark Taylor says Democratic council candidate Erik Yngstrom should resign from the zoning board for calling a controversial effort to bypass a board decision “fishy.”

In a press release issued Friday, Taylor accused Yngstrom of using his board position “as a platform to make several inappropriately political comments in an effort to further his own Council candidacy.”

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RED BANK: VACANT LOT SPLITS COUNCIL AGAIN

55 w front 062016The fenced-in lot at 55 West Front Street, next door to Trinity Episcopal Church, was formerly the site of a nursing home. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Advancing a plan to ease the possible redevelopment of a vacant Red Bank lot again proved controversial Wednesday night.

With both Democratic council members allied with the sole independent against the three Republicans, Mayor Pasquale Menna was again forced to cast a tie-breaker vote on the next step in an effort to rezone the downtown site.

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RED BANK: RAYRAP SEEKS ‘REHAB’ SITE LABEL

rapcavage 082714Ray Rapcavage, center above, with his wife, Suzanne, and Hudson Street resident Scott Broschart at the Five Corners site in 2014. Below, a detail of the latest proposal for the site. (Architectural rendering by David John Carnivale. Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rayrap 061316 1Having been thwarted by the zoning board, developer Ray Rapcavage plans to ask the Red Bank council to designate his assembled properties on the edge of downtown as an “area in need of rehabilitation,” redbankgreen has learned.

If granted, the controversial label would enable Rapcavage to avoid a return trip to the zoning board with his revised plan, though he denies that’s his intent.

Rather, it would create a more “expeditious” route to possible construction on the half-block of properties he’s assembled on Harding Road between Clay Street and Hudson Avenue, Rapcavage said Monday.

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RED BANK: PARKING PLAN ADVANCES, BARELY

rb white st lot 071916 1A divided council gave the go-ahead for a consultant to develop a concept plan for the White Street parking lot. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1Red Bank moved another step toward a possible answer to its chronic parking woes Wednesday night, but only after Mayor Pasquale Menna cast a pair of tiebreakers that put him at odds with fellow Democrats.

Menna’s votes were necessary after the council’s two lone Democrats joined with its sole independent in raising objections to a $6,500 contract for a concept plan covering the borough-owned White Street parking lot, where merchants and town officials envision a parking garage.

The debate also exposed rare friction between Menna and Red Bank RiverCenter, the semi-authonomous agency that promotes downtown business interests.

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RED BANK: ZONING SHORTCUT INTRODUCED

RB Reso 16-190 Map 071316A map showing a potential new “area in need of rehabilitation” that was quietly put into play Wednesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Over the objections of two council members and several residents that “it doesn’t smell right,” Red Bank’s governing body furthered plans for both a possible downtown parking garage and a proposed apartment building Wednesday night.

And without a word of public description or discussion beforehand, the council also started a process that could lead to designating a large swath of the town as an “area in need of rehabilitation,” which one official said would make it easier for developers to avoid variances when their plans don’t comply with the zoning law. Read More »

RED BANK: RAYRAP CONCEPT GETS THE HOOK

RayRap site 121015 2HOT-TOPIC_03An informal planning board hearing on developer Ray Rapcavage’s concept plan for 18 homes at the five corners in Red Bank was kept short Wednesday night after board attorney Mike Leckstein raised concerns about the board discussing a matter that may have to be heard by the zoning board. Rapcavage’s last proposal, calling for 22 homes on the site, was denied by the zoning board in December.

In his brief presentation, architect David Carnivale told the board the new plan calls 18 homes “meant to evoke European palaces overlooking a garden.” More details about the proposal are here (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: REDEVELOPMENT PLANS ADVANCE

55 w front 070616The West Front Street site where a 35-unit apartment building was rejected by the zoning board last year could end up with new zoning, a planning attorney said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Two Red Bank properties cleared a key hurdle toward possible redevelopment Wednesday night.

One is the borough-owned White Street parking lot, where merchants and town officials envision a parking garage.

The other is a privately owned site that several commenters, including two board members, said shouldn’t even have been part of the discussion.

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RED BANK: THREE MAJOR PROJECTS ON AGENDA

rb parking 051116 2The council directed the planning board to evaluate the borough-owned White Street lot for its “suitability” for a parking garage — and to do the same for a private lot where the zoning board turned down a 35-unit apartment building. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Three projects with the potential to dramatically alter downtown Red Bank for generations are slated for review by the borough planning board Wednesday night.

On the agenda:

• a legal interpretation that could lead to the construction of a new parking facility on White Street

• a do-over of sorts for a rejected 35-unit apartment building on West Front Street

• and yet another plan for housing on a disused “five corners” property on the edge of downtown.

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RED BANK: WHAT’S NEXT FOR RAYRAP SITE?

RayRap site 121015 2The zoning board shot down a plan to build 22 townhouses and condos on a parcel bound by Clay Street, Harding Road and Hudson Avenue, throwing the future of the site into uncertainty. (Google Earth image courtesy of Ray Rapcavage. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03It’s hard to avoid the use of the word “eyesore” when talking about the RayRap site at the Five Corners in Red Bank.

With a vacant lot that was once home to a gas station; the burned husk of a house destroyed by fire; and another notorious for having once been spray-painted black — windows, shingles and all — it’s easily one of the borough’s least visually gratifying parcels. The fact that it sits on a heavily traveled street bordering the downtown and a residential area only heightens the effect.

So now that the zoning board has shot down a plan to develop the site with 22 new homes, what happens? Are we stuck with an eyesore forever?

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RED BANK: ZONERS ZAP RAYRAP PLAN

bill brooks 120315 2Resident Bill Brooks studies a RayRap exhibit prior to the zoning board hearing. Below, a rendering of the proposed six-unit condo building that would front on Harding Road at Hudson Avenue. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rayrap condos 090815After a half-dozen hearings over 16 months and numerous revisions, a plan for 22 condos and townhouses on the edge of downtown Red Bank failed to win zoning board approval Thursday night.

Board members told developer Ray Rapcavage that though they appreciated his flexibility in accommodating the concerns of nearby residents, he hadn’t gone far enough.

“It’s just too dense,” said board chairwoman Lauren Nicosia, whose motion to reject the plan was backed by all but one other board member. Read More »

RED BANK: RAYRAP TRAFFIC PLAN RAPPED

rayrap 110515 1Planning consultant John Jahr addresses a question from Hudson Avenue resident William Hartigan as builder Ray Rapcavage props up an exhibit Thursday night. Below, a view of the six-unit condo building fronting on Harding Road, which was to have been a greenmarket. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rayrap condos 090815For the fifth time, developer Ray Rapcavage has revised his plans for a residential development on the edge of downtown Red Bank, this time to accommodate complaints that eight homes on Hudson Avenue were too close to the street.

But nearby residents voiced concerns at a zoning board hearing Thursday night that the 22-unit project would worsen traffic and parking on an already busy and narrow street.

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RED BANK: RAYRAP PLAN ON ZONING AGENDA

rayrap clay 011515rayrap 090315 2Developer Ray Rapcavage is scheduled to return to the Red Bank zoning board Thursday night with his proposal to build 22 homes on a block bounded by Harding Road, Hudson Avenue and Clay Street. Hearings on the original plan began in August, 2014, with a nine-month interim during which the proposal was revised.

Another project, the proposed 35-unit Element, opposite Riverside Gardens Park at 55 West Front Street, was also to have been heard, but has been rescheduled for December 10, according to a revised board agenda(Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)