light-mass-marks-070110As Ray Mass (background) and Deborah Marks listened, zoning board member Vincent Light details his objection to granting variances for the proposed Courtyards at Monmouth housing project, below. (Click to enlarge) courtyards-at-monmouth

Less than a year after a new zone was created at Red Bank’s train station to encourage a mix of high-density housing and retail activity, the borough zoning board last night greenlighted a plan that could put even greater density, but no stores, on a vacant Monmouth Street lot.

The move, on a 5-2 vote, was driven by a desire to see something built on a lot frequently described as an eyesore and the belief that adding retail space in a town with numerous store vacancies was the wrong way to go, said board members who favored he plan.

“Yes, it’s a very dense project,” said board chair Lauren Nicosia. “But this is a property that hasn’t been developed and that Red Bank needs to be developed.”

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sen-beckState Senator Jennifer Beck returned to borough hall in a failed bid to halt higher building densities.

Wrapping up more than 18 months of Master Plan review, the Red Bank council Monday night approved the last of a series of zoning changes focused on encouraging multifamily residential development around the train station.

The unanimous OK by the all-Democrat body, with one member absent, came despite an unusual plea for reconsideration from a former council member, state Sen. Jennifer Beck, a 12th-district Republican who still lives in the borough.

“The proposal before you tonight goes against the character of Red Bank,” Beck told the council. Estimating that the new rules could result in up to 600 new residents in a six-square-block area, she added: “I’m not sure the infrastructure is in place, or existing residents are prepared to deal with, that kind of increase.”

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