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RED BANK: TWO NEW HOME LOTS APPROVED

 The attorney for the property owners said they could theoretically build nine homes, though they were only seeking approval for two. (Image from Google Maps. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The infilling of Red Bank, where buildable lots are hard to find, continued with the approval by the zoning board Thursday night of a plan for two new homes on a West Side riverfront estate.

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RED BANK: VACANT SHOP TO GET FACELIFT

The long-vacant building, last home to a seafood shop, is about to get a makeover, as shown in the rendering below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Rendering by S.O.M.E. Architects. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

A Red Bank retail space that’s been vacant for decades may be on track to revival, starting with a facelift.

The borough zoning board gave unanimous approval Thursday night to a makeover plan for 203 Shrewsbury Avenue, the long-ago home of Bayshore Charlie’s seafood shop.
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RED BANK: SECOND FIREHOUSE REDO PLANNED

The former Independent Engine House on Mechanic Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank could see two nearly identical former firehouses getting makeovers in coming months.

The new owner of the former Independent Engine Company firehouse, at 32 Mechanic Street, is planning to create commercial space in the bay where firetrucks were once parked.

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RED BANK: SUPERSIZED WAWA ON AGENDA

The Auto Exotica site on Newman Springs Road would be redeveloped as a combination WaWa convenience store and gas station if approved by the zoning board. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

A supersized convenience store and gas station proposed at one of Red Bank’s busiest intersections is scheduled to go before the borough zoning board Thursday night.

With no residential neighbors directly impacted, the board’s consideration of variances may turn on matters related to traffic impact at a crossing where motorists typically sit for three minutes or more waiting for a green light.

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RED BANK: CHARTER, RAYRAP ON AGENDA

A view of 135-137 Monmouth Street as seen through windows at the Red Bank Charter School, its prospective next owner. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank zoning board this week takes up two projects that have generated heat in the past, one involving the Red Bank Charter School and the other a townhouse plan by builder Ray Rapcavage.

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RED BANK: RESTAURANT OPENS; DECK WON’T

“Upscale” 26 West on the Navesink opened Monday night in a building previously occupied by a string of nightclubs and Mexican restaurants. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank got a new, upscale seafood restaurant Monday, even as its owners were a few blocks away, at borough hall, getting approval for an expansion.

But not the approval they originally sought.

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RED BANK: ZONERS QUESTION HOUSING PLAN

55 w front 040215 1An architect’s rendering, above, shows the elevated patio of the proposed Element apartments, with parking underneath. Below, a view of the property, which includes a strip alongside the old Liberty Hose firehouse on White Street. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

55 w front 080315Questions about parking adequacy and affordable housing continued to dominate as the Red Bank zoning board resumed hearings on a 35-unit apartment building proposed for West Front Street Thursday night.

Dubbed the Element, the project would be built on an irregularly shaped, three-quarter-acre vacant lot facing Riverside Gardens Park at one end and White Street, alongside the former Liberty Hose firehouse, on the other.

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RED BANK: COUNCIL WRAP-UP

rbcs 061015Seventh-graders from the Red Bank Charter School presented a report on “serving a healthy town,” and Mayor Pasquale Menna, below, returned to the dais after heart surgery. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

pasquale menna 061015Here’s some of what went on at the semimonthly meeting of the Red Bank council Wednesday night:

• Mayor Pasqule Menna presided over his first meeting following a month away following open-heart surgery. He thanked Council President Art Murphy for filling in for him at various events, and for “chauffering me around – ‘Driving Mr. Daisy,’ I suppose,” he said.

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RED BANK: NO VOTE ON WEST FRONT UNITS

55 w front 040215 2After three hours of testimony and few questions from zoning board members, a hearing on a proposed 35-unit apartment complex fronting on West Front Street in Red Bank ended without reaching a vote Thursday night.

The hearing on the project, located opposite Riverside Gardens Park and called the Element, is scheduled to resume June 18. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

RED BANK: APARTMENT PROPOSAL ON AGENDA

55 w front 040215 1A zoning board hearing on a proposed 35-unit apartment complex fronting on West Front Street opposite Riverside Gardens Park in Red Bank is scheduled to resume after a two-month interval Thursday night.

Testimony on traffic flow and parking is expected, with a possible vote on the plan, called 55 West Front. The board meets at borough hall at 6:30 p.m. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

RED BANK: AFTER 26 YEARS, BARR ZONES OUT

donna smith barr 042815 2Zoning officer Donna Smith Barr leaves the job this week after 26 years. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

people-in-the-newsThe cliches compete: it’s tempting to say Donna Smith Barr has had a front-row seat on Red Bank’s two-decade-long bounceback from “Dead Bank” to today’s bustling burg. But it’s probably more accurate to say she’s been the gatekeeper.

Whether you wanted to put a deck on your house or turn a downtown store into a restaurant, Barr’s office has been the first stop at borough hall. And if she spoke or wrote the word “variance” in response, it probably wasn’t your last, as it would mean the time and expense of making one’s case before the zoning or planning board.

“I’m glad I don’t have to tell people they need variances anymore,” Barr told redbankgreen Tuesday. A single instance is one thing, “but when you do it for 26 years, that’s enough.”

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RED BANK: CLARITY ASKED ON W. FRONT PLAN

55 w front 040215 2A photo montage, above, showing the West Front Street elevation of the proposed building. Below, a rendering of a deck atop the garage, also visible at right in the image above. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

55 w front 040215 1The quest for approval of a proposed 35-unit apartment building in downtown Red Bank was slowed Thursday night by another  document already in the developer’s pocket: an eight-year-old plan for 27 condos at the same site.

Members of the zoning board and neighbors of the proposed 55 West Front Street project, located opposite Riverside Gardens Park, were frequently flummoxed by how variances the developer is now seeking differed from those obtained in 2007.

“I wasn’t here when the original plan was approved, and I don’t know who on this board was,” a clearly frustrated board member Sean Murphy told the applicant’s lawyer, Peter Falvo.

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RED BANK: APARTMENT PLAN ON AGENDA

55 w front 010715 At 55 West Front Street, a developer is seeking approval for 35 rental units on a vacant lot previously approved for 27 condos. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

55 w front 010715 2After a nearly eight-year interim, new plans for a prominent Red Bank parcel are scheduled to go before the borough zoning board Thursday night.

The proposal, for a vacant lot opposite Riverside Gardens Park on West Front Street, replaces a plan approved in 2007 for 27 condos to replace a since-demolished Meridian nursing home.

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RED BANK: CHOCOLATE SHOP ON AGENDA

65 broad 073014The proposed conversion of the storefront at 65 Broad Street in Red Bank to a Chocolate Works shop is slated for review by the borough planning board Monday night. The plan requires approval for a change-of-use from retail to primary food use and a parking variance (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: WALGREEN’S PLANS DRAW CONCERN

rb walgreens 3 091613Red Bank resident Patricia Meenan asks a question as engineer Dan Dougherty and attorney Marty McGann, in white shirt, look on. Below, a rendering of the proposed store. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb walgreens 2 091613A long brick wall, traffic flow and merchandise deliveries emerged as early concerns as the Red Bank Planning Board took up the question of whether to allow a Walgreen’s pharmacy on Broad Street Monday night.

At the first of several expected hearings on the proposal, an engineer for he developer sought to depict the proposed 14,200-square-foot store as an improvement on what was there for decades: the now-closed Rassas Buick showroom, opposite the foot of Maple Avenue.

There will be less impervious ground cover, more greenery and better vehicular access, according to engineer Dan Dougherty.

But questions from board members and the public reflected concerns about the store’s size, placement and more.

“Garfield Place will be 137 feet of brick wall,” said nearby resident Art Ziemanis.

“A 137-foot brick wall standing 37 feet at its peak – it just doesn’t seem to fit the site,” said Monica Boscarino.

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RED BANK ZONERS NIX TRAINING OFFICE

Shore House consultant Pauline Nicholls, board president Susan Sandlass and attorney Phillip San Filippo at the zoning board hearing. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

Red Bank officials Thursday night rejected a request by a nonprofit to provide job training to people with mental illnesses at a facility on Maple Avenue.

The borough zoning board, taking up an appeal, unanimously agreed with borough Planning Director Donna Smith-Barr’s earlier determination that Shore House would need a variance before it could offer its services at 135 Maple, amid a stretch of onetime elegant homes that now serve as offices for lawyers, architects, doctors, and other professionals.

“I like your program,” board chairwoman Lauren Nicosia told Shore House representatives. “I just don’t like it there.”

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7-ELEVEN SETTLEMENT GETS QUICK CHECKOUT

A lawyer for the planned 7-Eleven said signage lighting would be turned off, and other lighting would be reduced to the minimum needed for security, during the hours when the store is closed. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Ending months of wrangling and litigation in just 35 minutes, Red Bank’s planning board approved the conversion of the Welsh Farms convenience store on East Front Street to a 7-Eleven Monday night.

Not your typical 7-Eleven, though. While the parent corporation usually insists its franchisees keep their stores open 24 hours a day, it’s making an exception in this case, agreeing to limit the shop’s hours of operation to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. That’s unusual, said lawyer Philip San Filippo, representing Welsh Farms owner Dina Enterprises.

“In my experience, 7-Eleven will not agree to anything less than 24 hours,” but was allowing it at this location out of a desire to be “a good neighbor” and comply with local laws, he told redbankgreen after the hearing.

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CONSIGNMENT DEAL MEANS SHORT VACANCY

Greene Street Consignment plans to open its eighth store at 40 Broad Street in Red Bank, former home of Funk and Standard, by mid-September. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

When officials from Greene Street Consignment, a high-end used-clothing shop with seven stores in the greater Philadelphia area, paid her a visit about a month ago, Red Bank RiverCenter executive director Nancy Adams’ immediate reaction, she later said, was, “We’ve gotta get you here. We need retail.”

And with some fast action, Adams helped do just that, in the process heading off what might have been a prolonged and gaping vacancy in the heart of a downtown still struggling to recover.

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YMCA SUES BOROUGH OVER PLAN DENIAL

ymca1The Community YMCA says the zoning board rejection was capricious. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

As expected, the Community YMCA has filed a lawsuit against Red Bank’s zoning board for its decision to not allow the Y to nearly double the size of its Maple Avenue facility, putting the nonprofit at odds with the town on two legal fronts.

The suit, filed on May 18 in state Superior Court in Freehold, says that the board’s resolution denying the Y’s expansion plan “lacks a factual basis for its negative findings and provides nothing more that conclusions unsupported by fact or applicable land use law, ” and therefore makes the board’s decision unreasonable.

The Y is seeking to reverse the zoning board’s decision and win approval of the variance applications and site plan. It is also asking for compensation for the cost of the suit and whatever other relief the court deems just.

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