RED BANK: HOTEL DELAY REQUEST REJECTED

red bank hampton innA rendering of the proposed Hampton Inn, with the former VNA building at right. (Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank nj

In a move that could torpedo a hotly debated hotel at the northern entry to Red Bank, the planning board Monday night shot down a request by the would-be developer for more time to get the project in the ground.
Read More »

RED BANK: HAMPTON INN WINS APPROVAL

Peter Steck, a planner hired by an opponent of the proposed hotel, testified that the developer was “stuffing” the one-acre site. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After nearly seven years of battles, a proposed hotel at the northernmost entrance to Red Bank won approval Monday night.

The planning board’s OK of a six-story, 76-room Hampton Inn at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper’s Bridge came after a last-minute concession by the developer.

Read More »

RED BANK: HOTEL ANTAGONIST RETURNS

larry-cohen-rbank-hampton-121916Rbank Capital managing partner and would-be Hampton Inn developer Larry Cohen at Monday night’s planning board hearing with an architect’s rendering of the hotel. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A hotel developer’s long and contentious battle to build a 76-room Hampton Inn at Red Bank’s northern gateway grew longer more contentious Monday night.

It also got a bit deja vu-y when, for the second time in the plan’s six-year history, its chief antagonist, lawyer Ron Gasiorowski, returned, claiming once again to represent a client with legal standing to challenge the plan.

Read More »

RED BANK: WILL HAMPTON INN GET THE KEYS?

hampton-inn-112116HOT-TOPIC_03Will a new hotel finally get the keys to Red Bank? After almost six years in litigation and other delays, a six-story, 76-room Hampton Inn proposed on the former site of a Exxon station at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper’s Bridge could go to a vote Monday night.

But first, the plan must overcome the objections of at least one planning board member, who has warned that the hotel’s traffic plan is dangerously flawed to the point that “someone is going to die” if it’s allowed.

Read More »

RED BANK: SITE IDEAL FOR HOTEL, SAYS MENNA

vna-176-riverside-120716The VNA’s departure could put its headquarters building on the tax rolls. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The VNA Health Group is quitting Red Bank, leaving behind a large empty building that could wind up on the tax rolls of a borough whose officials complain often about the high number of nonprofits.

Heck, it would even make a great hotel, Mayor Pasquale Menna tells redbankgreen.

Read More »

RED BANK: HOTEL ACCESS PLAN CRITICIZED

hampton-inn-112116An architect’s rendering of the proposed Hampton Inn, as seen from Riverside Avenue, with the existing VNA building at right. (Rendering by Louis Silverstein. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

After years of litigation and other delays, a proposed Hampton Inn at Red Bank’s northern gateway returned to the borough planning board Monday night — and quickly ran into opposition.

Board member Guy Maratta sharply criticized a plan to allow vehicles to turn left into the Route 35 site across two lanes of southbound traffic that he said averages 60 miles per hour.

“Somebody is going to die, mark my words,” Maratta told the traffic engineer for the applicant, Rbank Capital.

Read More »

RED BANK: HAMPTON INN RETURNS

hampton inn 062016Architect Lou Silverstein with a rendering of the proposed hotel, at center above, as seen from the Middletown side of Cooper’s Bridge. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

Almost six years after it was first proposed, a Hampton Inn at Red Bank’s northern gateway remains nothing more than an abstraction, existing solely as mountain of engineer and litigation documents.

The developer hopes to finally turn it into a seven-story reality.

Read More »

RED BANK: HOTEL PLAN RETURNS, SORT OF

hampton inn 062016Architect Lou Silverstein with a rendering of the proposed hotel, at center above, as seen from the Middletown side of Cooper’s Bridge. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

The developer of a proposed Hampton Inn hotel that’s been mired in zoning reviews and lawsuits for five years returned to Red Bank’s planning board after an extended absence Monday night.

The purpose? An informal presentation. A “coming attractions” preview of amended plans, in the words of the board’s attorney. Read More »

RED BANK: COURT BACKS HEIGHT CHANGE

hampton inn 040913The seven-story, 76-room hotel would be built on a one-acre riverfront property adjacent to Cooper’s Bridge, seen here from the Middletown side of the Navesink. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

A 2013 change to the building height limits in Red Bank’s waterfront development zone did not constitute “spot zoning,” even though it benefitted a planned Hampton Inn a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Instead, the appeals court upheld a Superior Court decision that found the changes “were enacted as part of a comprehensive plan to advance the general welfare of the community.”

Read More »

RED BANK: HAMPTON HOTEL PLAN REVIVED

gasiorowski 072512Lawyer Ron Gasiorowski, who has sued to block to the hotel, examines a rendering at a 2012 hearing. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

Five years after it was proposed and nearly two years after it was derailed by litigation, a planned Hampton Inn at Red Bank’s northern gateway is back.

But the controversial plan is still in court.

Read More »

REPORT: BON JOVI STIFFED M’TOWN ON O.T.

bon jovi 101911Bon Jovi, seen above in Red Bank in 2011. Below, a gate to his home. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[See UPDATE below]

By JOHN T. WARD

bon jovi house 2008A campaign fundraiser at which pop star Jon Bon Jovi “serenaded” Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was held in Red Bank Monday night because Middletown balked at providing police protection for the event at the pop star’s mansion, according to a report.

The conservative Washington Free Beacon claimed Wednesday that the township refused to staff the event at Bon Jovi’s Navesink River Road home because he hasn’t ponied up for $14,000 in police overtime expenses still owed for security provided for a 2008 fundraiser held there for then-Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Read More »

RED BANK: BON JOVI “SERENADES” CLINTON

bon-jovi-101911Bon Jovi, seen here at the opening of Red Bank’s JBJ Soul Kitchen in 2011, was back in town to host the former first lady and secretary of state Monday night. Below, an uncredited photo of Clinton posted on the Twitter feed of former New York Governor David Paterson. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Hillary Clinton 062915Jon Bon Jovi “serenaded” Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a $1,000-a-head campaign fundraiser in Red Bank Monday night, according to PolitickerNJ.

Actually, the report says pop-rocker, who has a home on the Navesink River in Middletown, “serenely serenaded” Clinton at the no-media-allowed event, held at the riverfront Molly Pitcher Inn.

Read More »

SEA BRIGHT: TOMMY’S DOUBLES DOWN

tommy's tavern 062315Tommy and Yvette Bonfiglio, below, expect to open Tommy’s Tavern + Tap on Ocean Avenue within the next month. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

bonfiglio 062315When Tommy Bonfiglio first toured the property that was long the home of Sea Bright’s post office, he was so fixated on an idea that he barely noticed the building at all.

“I only wanted the land,” on which he envisioned putting up an 18-room hotel and restaurant overlooking the Shrewsbury River, Bonfiglio told redbankgreen on Wednesday. Because of that tunnel vision, he never even stepped inside the two-story building fronting on Ocean Avenue, which he expected to tear down because of damage from Hurricane Sandy.

But when he realized he’d have to run a gauntlet of environmental permitting that could take years, he decided to examine the building out front. What he found shocked him.

Read More »

RED BANK WINS HOTEL HEIGHT CHALLENGE

gasiorowski 072512Attorney Ron Gasiorowski, above, has repeatedly challenged a proposed six-story Hampton Inn on the site of a former filling station, below.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hampton 1 031812The long-running saga of a proposed Hampton Inn at Red Bank’s northern gateway took a turn this month with a win by the borough in court.

In an April 7 decision, Superior Court Judge Thomas Scully in Freehold rejected a challenge to a 2012 zoning change that raised the building-height limit at the proposed hotel site, at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper Bridge.

The decision, unless overturned on appeal, is expected to clear the way for the hotel’s developer, Rbank Capital, to return to the planning board with the most significant hurdle to the plan nullified.

Read More »

RED BANK: WEDDING WALKERS BRAVE CHILL

rb wed walk 033014 5rb wed walk 033014 2Some 215 soon-to-be-married couples and their attendants endured a wet, chilly few hours Sunday for the latest edition Red Bank Wedding Walk, which puts the services of several dozen wedding vendors on display. A trolly and a hot beverage made the going a bit easier for one participant, above.

The event, the first since a Superior Court ruled last October that New Jersey must recognize same-sex marriage, attracted a number of same-sex couples, including a set of grooms-to-be who won one of the event’s prizes, according to officials at Red Bank RiverCenter, the organizer.  (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: TALKING SHORE FOOD HISTORY

schnitzspahn 1Author Karen Schnitzspahn brings her knowledge of local cuisine history to the Red bank Public Library tonight. (Photo by Rebecca Desfosse. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

It’s a Friday afternoon sometime in the late 1880s. A guy walks into a saloon in Red Bank. Which saloon isn’t important, because Red Bank is crowded with watering holes, but let’s say it’s Frank Clausey’s tavern on West Front Street.

Now, there would be a list a mile long of differences between his happy hour experience and our modern day experience of ordering up a martini at the Downtown. But two worth noting, according to Little Silver author and historian Karen Schnitzspahn: the women and the oysters.

First off, there’d be no women – “or at least no proper women,” says Schnitzspahn. Second, there’d be way more oysters on the menu, and they’d be really local.

Read More »

RED BANK: HOTEL AIMS FOR JANUARY RETURN

The surging Navesink River poured six feet of water into the hotel’s basement, knocking out electricity and other systems. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Almost a month after Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Jersey Shore, Red Bank’s Oyster Point Hotel remains locked and dark, a handwritten note taped to its front door telling visitors it will reopen “when it is safe to do so.”

The riverside hotel’s basement, the operational heart of the facility, was inundated with more than six feet of water in the storm. Even though flood gates were in place, the water levels exceeded them and entered the basement, destroying the electrical and communication equipment, said Kevin Barry, the hotel’s operating manager.

“We have flood gates that were set by the standards of the ’92 storm, but obviously the damage by Sandy was exponentially worse,” he said.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

BATTLE OVER HOTEL HEIGHT DRAGS ON

A planned six-story hotel at the longtime site of an Exxon station is the subject of a hearings at both the planning and zoning boards.   (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

An opponent of a planned hotel at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper’s Bridge made his fullest case yet Thursday night that the building violates Red Bank’s height limits.

But after two slow-moving, trial-like hearings before the town zoning board, the lawyer for the hotel has barely begun to put on his defense, and no resolution of the dispute is likely for at least another month.

Read More »

MYSTERY HAMPTON INN PLAN OPPONENT ID’D

Lawyer Ron Gasiorowski, left, said the owners of a Tinton Falls hotel have been paying his fees for representing Hampton Inn opponent Stephen Mitchell, right. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After months of secrecy, the lawyer for the most vocal opponent of a proposed Hampton Inn in Red Bank has identified the moneybags paying for his services.

They’re the operators of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel on Hope Road in Tinton Falls.

Attorney Ron Gasiorowski ended his cat-and-mouse game over Stephen Mitchell’s backing Thursday night, when he told the borough zoning board that brothers Carey and Doran Tejfal of Tinton Falls Realty Lodging were picking up the tab for his services.

Read More »

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.”

Read More »