Hearing on West Side Lofts moved to Oct. 6

MW Red Bank wants public to hear details of applications


Staff Writer

RED BANK — To avoid sending the wrong message to the public, the applicant for the West Side Lofts project asked that the hearing on the mixed use development be rescheduled for next month.

At last week’s Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, the attorney for MW Red Bank, the applicant proposing the mixed-use project on the former Blaisdell site on Bridge Avenue, asked the board to reschedule the hearing to Oct. 6, which was the original date for the hearing.

The applicant’s attorney Steve Santola explained that at the Aug. 4 zoning meeting, there was no opening on the board’s schedule for the Sept. 1 meeting and MW Red Bank was asked to wait until October to continue the hearing.

However, Santola said his office was contacted because the application originally scheduled for Sept. 1 was canceled and was asked if MW Red Bank wanted to move up the hearing.

The applicant not only renoticed all property owners within 200 feet of the site of the new date, but also noticed all those who had spoken at previous hearings in front of the board.

“I am quite certain that we have every legal right to proceed here,” said Santola before asking the board to carry the hearing, which the applicant will again renotice.

Chris Cole, managing partner in Metrovation, one of the principals in MW Red Bank along with Woodmont Properties, said that because he lives and works in town, he feels it is important to have the public understand what the project is about.

“My commitment to this community,” he said, “is about honesty, integrity and giving back.”

Cole said he wants, and has received, community input about this and other projects in the borough.

Before the board voted unanimously to carry the hearing, board chairwoman Lauren Nicosia said that the board wanted the public to feel that they are being heard.

“We try,” she said, “on the board, to really bend over backwards to let everybody speak. It may not feel that way because of some of the procedural things. Everybody’s going to be able to make a comment.”

West Street resident Kaye Ernst spoke up at a recent Borough Council meeting to complain about the short notice for the change of dates for the hearing.

“This project is enormous,” said Ernst. “It will impact every person in this community.”

Council Attorney Kenneth Pringle told Ernst that there was nothing that the council could do about the board’s decision to move the application to Sept. 1.

Ernst did attend the meeting, but was frustrated that she had canceled vacation plans only to have the hearing moved back to its original date.

West Side Lofts, if approved, would be located on the northeast corner of West Front Street and Bridge Avenue. The mixed-use development would have 110 residential units, including six live/work, street level residential units for use as demonstration art studios, 20,000 square feet of street-level retail space and a brew pub/restaurant.

The applicant is seeking a variance that would permit a density higher than that allowed in the zone.

The hearing will be held on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 6:30 p.m. at borough hall.