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Property owner gives informal presentation over borough attorney’s objections

Staff Writer

RED BANK —  One of the most contentious questions at the Planning Board meeting on July 6 was not related to any specific element of a developer’s presentation, but whether or not he could present at all.

Raymond Rapcavage, who owns a parcel of land at the corner of Harding Road and Hudson Avenue, appeared before Red Bank’s Planning Board to give an informal presentation of his current concept plan for the site, but Michael Leckstein, attorney for the Planning Board, discouraged the board from hearing his proposal.

Leckstein discussed a number of issues associated with an informal presentation, such as the fact that neighbors of the property under review do not receive any prior notice of informal presentations and thus cannot attend the meeting to voice their concerns, which may raise due process issues that endanger the future success of the application. In addition, he noted that Rapcavage’s final proposal may not come before the Planning Board, but instead go to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for final approval.

“I really counsel against [hearing this proposal] until we know whether or not we’re going to have jurisdiction in the future,” he said.

Leckstein also pointed out that Red Bank’s Director of Planning and Zoning Glenn Carter had not received any materials from Rapcavage related to his plan, so the board would have no background information when hearing the informal presentation.

R. Armen McOmber, Rapcavage’s attorney, said borough ordinances allowed for informal presentations to discuss concept plans and that he and his client were “just taking your temperature.”

“We don’t want to tell you what our temperature is!” Leckstein said in response.

Eventually, Leckstein and McOmber agreed to a 15-minute presentation to review the concept plan; however, members of the Planning Board would not be permitted to give Rapcavage any feedback whatsoever.

Architect David Carnivale spoke about the plan to build 16 condominiums and two affordable units on the property that he had designed “to look like a European palace overlooking a beautiful formal garden.”

In December 2015, Rapcavage appeared before Red Bank’s Zoning Board of Adjustment with a plan to build 22 units on the site, but was denied after the proposal was deemed too dense. Since then, he and his architect have gone back to the drawing board and developed the concept plan discussed at the July 6 meeting.

“It’s our intent that [the plan] be completely conforming and that it remain before the Planning Board,” Rapcavage said.

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