RED BANK: FAMILIAR FACES AT HAMPTON II

Engineer Rich Kenderian testifies for the hotel developer, above. Below, objector Stephen Mitchell reviewing plans. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

Parking and stormwater emerged as early issues when the second round of hearings for a proposed six-storyRed Bank hotel got underway Monday night.

The 76-room Hampton Inn would be built at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper Bridge, at the northern gateway to town, on the former site of an Exxon gas station. A series of combative hearings on the plan that began in August, 2011 ended nearly a year later with a ruling the structure was too tall.

With zoning rules since amended by the borough council to accommodate the building’s height, the start of round two brought out familiar adversaries – and one new one who, if she was present, did not announce herself or her interest.

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RED BANK: CONTROVERSIAL HOTEL RETURNS

A Hampton Inn hotel is proposed for the long-vacant Exxon station site at the foot of the Cooper Bridge.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

It’s back.

After a year of dormancy, a controversial proposal for a six-story, 76-room Hampton Inn hotel at the northern gateway to Red Bank returns to the spotlight Monday night, when the borough planning board begins anew with what’s expected to be another series of hearings.

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LINCROFT: FOUR PONDS PLAN HEADS TO COURT

The Middletown Planning Board last year rejected a proposal for 342 homes on the site of a former Avaya office building. (Photo by Joe Fisher. Click to enlarge)

By JOE FISHER

Organizers of last year’s successful battle in Middletown to stop a 342-unit housing development on a former Avaya corporate offices site are girding for round two: a court appeal by the developer.

In opposing the plan, a group that dubs itself SONIC, for Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity and Character, hired an attorney and expert witnesses, who argued that Four Ponds Center Associate’s application to the township planning board would adversely impact local traffic, the township school system, and the need to expand sewer capacity at the expense of neighbors.

After a year of hearings, the board rejected the application 9-0 last June, citing testimony of those witnesses as a major factor in the denial.

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HOTEL LAWSUIT III: THIS TIME, IT’S PERSONAL

Lawyer Ron Gasiorowski clashing with Councilman Mike DuPont last week, above, and relaxing at Zebu Forno on Monday. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

As an attorney, Ron Gasiorowski is used to verbal conflict. It’s inherent in the adversarial work of representing a client’s interests against someone who’s doing the same.

But as he prepares to file his third lawsuit against Red Bank over a proposed Hampton Inn, Gasiorowski is stewing over the reception he got when he appeared before the borough council last Wednesday.

Not the way he was treated by borough Attorney Dan O’Hern, who challenged him on procedural points at nearly every turn, but did so respectfully, Gasiorowski told redbankgreen last week. And likewise not by Mayor Pasquale Menna, who despite his resistance to Gasiorowski’s point of view, “is always a gentleman,” he said.

No, Gasiorowski said, he was put out by the the third lawyer up on the dais: Councilman Mike DuPont.

“In 40 years of practicing law, that was the most unprofessional and rudest I’ve ever been treated,” said Gasiorowski, a 71-year-old former Marine captain.

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COUNCIL RAISES HEIGHT LIMIT AT HOTEL SITE

Attorney Ron Gasiorowski, with a rendering of the proposed Hampton Inn hotel he opposes, awaits the start of Wednesday’s Red Bank council meeting. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Two months after the Red Bank zoning board ruled that a proposed hotel on the site of a former Exxon station exceeded the height limit for its zone, the town’s governing body boosted the limit Wednesday night.

After a contentious hearing that was widely seen as a prelude to a third lawsuit over zoning changes affecting the site the of the proposed Hampton Inn, the borough council gave unanimous approval to a trio of ordinance amendments, one of which would allow a building 82.4 feet tall, or seven stories, in the zone.

Though characterized by council members and council Attorney Dan O’Hern as an attempt to clarify rules affecting the town’s entire waterfront development zone, the most immediate impact of the change is eliminate the most significant obstacle to the proposed hotel, eyed for the juncture of Route 35 and Rector Place at the foot of Cooper’s Bridge.

“I, too, am of the opinion that we need another hotel here, one that is affordable,” Councilman Mike DuPont said after sparring repeatedly with the attorney representing the hotel’s foremost objector.

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JURISDICTION QUESTION ICES HOTEL PLAN

A dispute over whether a height restriction applies to the proposed hotel site will go to the zoning board for resolution. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

In yet another twist in what’s proving to be its most tortuous case in years, the Red Bank planning board voted Wednesday to halt testimony about a proposed Hampton Inn so an objector can press his case that the wrong body is hearing the matter.

Lawyer Ron Gasiorowski, representing objector Stephen Mitchell and other, unnamed parties, persuaded the planning board to kick a question about height restrictions and jurisdiction over to the zoning board, despite vehement objections by hotel attorney Marty McGann.

“You have jurisdiction. You have a right to hear this thing,” McGann told the board. “I have an application, and I want to proceed.”

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HOTEL HEARING DELAYED ANOTHER MONTH

By JOHN T. WARD

Planning board testimony about a proposed 72-room hotel at the foot of Cooper Bridge in Red Bank was put off until mid-January Monday night after a lawyer for an objector raised a question about the structure’s height.

Ron Gasiorowski, representing Stephen Mitchell, says a borough ordinance limits the hotel to 50 feet, whereas the proposed Hampton Inn is 30 feet higher than that.

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HOTEL FOES FOCUS ON RIVER VIEWS

gasiorowski-3Lawyer Ron Gasiorowski grills Roy DeBoer, a planner for the developer of the proposed Hampton Inn. Below, a sketch shows the east side of the hotel. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hampton-elevOpponents of a proposed proposed 72-room hotel in Red Bank seized on a claim Monday night that the seven-story structure would offer improved, albeit “filtered” views of the Navesink River for passersby.

They also began whittling away at arguments made in favor of a dozen variances or waivers needed for the Hampton Inn to be built on the site of a disused gas station on Route 35, at the foot of Cooper’s Bridge.

The  challenges highlighted what foes consider numerous shortcomings of the plan, which is beset by questions about size, traffic, parking and environmental contamination issues – not to mention a pending lawsuit over whether the borough planning board ought to be considering the proposal.

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