Neighbors, builder continue to battle over project


By sandi carpello
Staff Writer

Building’s size at heart
of dispute between
residents and developer
By sandi carpello
Staff Writer

When it comes to constructing a proposed condominium complex on the corner of Monmouth and West streets in Red Bank, size does matter.

"They’re too big," said Michael Reeps of Oakland Street, who says that Building and Land Technologies’ proposed project would bring in "hundreds of new cars and residents, as well as their garbage, recycling and noise" to the borough’s west side.

But Danny Murphy, owner of Danny’s Steak House in Red Bank and a shareholder in the development company, says the proposal "fits Red Bank."

"The apartments are 2,000 square feet, and that matches the size of other homes in that area," he said. The project cannot be scaled down any further because "it would be hard to sell a 1,200-square-foot apartment for [$300,000-$350,000], and if we sold them for cheaper, we wouldn’t have enough money to fund the project. … If we reduced the number of apartments, we’d have to sell them for $800,000 a piece. Also, if you build smaller apartments, you’re doing nothing more than a garden apartment, and those would not be the kind of luxury apartments empty nesters who are moving out of the city are looking for."

With that said, more than 40 area residents showed up at an Aug. 28 Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting to oppose the proposed 24-unit condominium and five-unit townhouse project on a 53,000-square-foot lot that encompasses portions of Oakland, West and Monmouth streets.

Aug. 28 marked the Zoning Board’s seventh hearing on the bifurcated application. The board granted the applicants a use variance for higher density in Jan­uary.

During last week’s meeting, the ap­plicants’ planner, Andrew Janiw of Bea­con Planning and Consulting Services in Colts Neck, recapped his previous tes­timony that the project is right on track with the borough’s master plan, which calls for increased housing by the Red Bank train station and the community’s economic growth.

In the plan, the property lies in the BR-1 zone, which permits 14 units per acre, and the BR-2 zone, which permits 10 units per acre. As approved, the pro­ject will have 27.2 units per acre in the BR-1 zone and 16 units per acre in the BR-2 zone.

Janiw also argued that the roughly 80 variances needed for the project should be granted because the "pattern of the proposed project is consistent with the neighborhood’s character, as well as other homes in the area. …

… There are other non-conforming front-yard setbacks in that area," he said.

However, Zoning Board Member Josephine Lee was unconvinced.

"There isn’t that kind of structure in that area," she told Janiw. "What is the point of having ordinances, if the project will go with the way things were decades ago. …Why does the project need to look like a monolithic, ugly building?"

Residents in the Oakland Street area, who, in February, hired attorney Lawrence Carton to cross-examine the applicants’ witnesses, fear that the pro­ject would destroy their quality of life and change the character of their neigh­borhood.

William Myer of Monmouth Street said the project could eventually lead to the borough’s downfall.

"When they show the weather on the evening news they show Red Bank, but Long Branch and Asbury Park used to be hotshot towns. U.S. Presidents were vacationing in Long Branch and Asbury Park, and those places spiraled into the ground, and that was primarily due to overdevelopment."

However, Patrick Nulle, a principal in Building and Land Technologies, said the proposed development was a neces­sary step in the type of smart growth that state officials have been talking about.