HomeThe Atlantic-HubAtlantic-Hub NewsPlanning Board approves redevelopment area in Red Bank

Planning Board approves redevelopment area in Red Bank

Staff Writer

RED BANK – Two tracts of land in the heart of downtown have made it onto the fast-track for redevelopment.

On July 6, Red Bank’s Planning Board voted to designate the borough-owned White Street parking lot and a privately-owned property at 55 West Front St. as an area in need of redevelopment in accordance with the 2013 Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.

The Borough Council adopted a resolution in January of 2016 directing the Planning Board to conduct a preliminary investigation as to whether or not the White Street parking lot met the necessary criteria to be declared as an area in need of redevelopment, which, if so designated, would allow the municipality to create ordinances and a vision specifically for the zone.

A redevelopment designation at White Street would help facilitate the construction of a parking garage there.

The council adopted a subsequent resolution including 55 West Front St. — which was formerly a nursing home but is currently a vacant lot — as part of the Planning Board’s investigation after the property owner requested to be added into the study area.

Planning Consultant Anthony Rodriguez of CME Associates of Howell testified to the results of the report and recommended that the Planning Board designate the 3.37-acre study area that included both the White Street and Front Street properties as an area in need of redevelopment. He cited the “D Criterion” of the law, which allows for redevelopment if the improvements to a lot are obsolete or feature “deleterious land use,” as a justification.

“The surface parking facility that’s currently there does not serve to meet the peak demand of the surrounding commercial district,” he said, noting the obsolescence of the parking lot on White Street.

For the Front Street property, Rodriguez pointed out the collapsing fence, crumbling road, and other dilapidated improvements that qualified it to for designation as an area in need of redevelopment.

Several members of the public spoke in favor of a redevelopment classification for White Street due to its status as municipal property and the intense demand for additional parking downtown, but felt that the property at 55 West Front St. did not merit special treatment.

A major criticism addressed the fact that the owner of 55 West Front St. had a plan for the site approved by the borough several years ago but had chosen not to execute it, raising the question of why the property required designation as an area in need of redevelopment when the owner already secured approval for an existing plan.

“To me, [55 West Front St.] is viable for development, as demonstrated by prior approval,” Michael Simpson, an architect who helped develop Red Bank’s 1995 Master Plan, said.

Following Rodriguez’s testimony and input from the public, the Planning Board voted 5-2 to accept CME Associates’ recommendation and designate both White Street parking lot and 55 West Front St as an area in need of redevelopment. Planning Board Members Barbara Boas and Juanita Lewis voted no, because while they see the need for parking on White Street, they felt as though the property on Front Street should have been considered separately.

“I just feel that including this piece of private property is a slippery slope, especially when people are allowed to put themselves on these lists,” Boas said.

The next obstacle the White Street and Front Street properties must overcome is for the Borough Council to approve them as an area in need of redevelopment, after which point ordinances and a vision for the zone can be drafted. Mayor Pasquale Menna plans to bring this before the council at its next meeting on July 13.

“We need a parking garage – and maybe more than one garage,” he said.

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