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Lawsuit Challenging Zoning Puts a Hold on Proposed
76-room Hampton Inn for Red Bank, New Jersey

By Larry Higgs, Asbury Park Press, N.J.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Sept. 09, 2011--RED BANK -- The brakes were slammed on the borough Planning Board's scheduled review of plans for a six-story, 76-room Hampton Inn hotel proposed for a lot at Route 35 and Rector Place after a resident filed a lawsuit.

Stephen Mitchell of Prospect Street, who has attended prior hearings and raised questions about the project, filed suit on Sept. 7 in state Superior Court, challenging a Zoning Board of Adjustment decision that sent the application to the Planning Board to be heard and its ruling that a use variance isn't needed.

In July, the Zoning Board determined the property on the corner of Rector Place and Route 35 wasn't part of the residential zone that overlays Rector Street and that the former gasoline station site was commercial.

"His concern is that he doesn't think this (a hotel) is appropriate for that area," said attorney Ron Gasiorowski, who is representing Mitchell. "You'll go over the (Cooper) bridge and won't see the water. The lot is one acre and they almost completely covered it."

Gasiorowski said that the suit contends the applicant, RBank Capital LLC, erred when it failed to appeal a zoning officer decision in 20 days that the application required a use variance and instead filed an application asking the Zoning Board to make an interpretation whether the residential zoning applied to the property.

"My position is if you don't file an appeal of the decision of the zoning officer, then you are precluded from raising the issue through an interpretation, they have to apply for a use variance," he said. "Since they didn't appeal in 20 days, they can't get in through the back door with an interpretation."

Gasiorowski also sought a stay on the Planning Board continuing the hearing until the matter is heard in court. The board after meeting with its attorney, Michael Leckstein, voted to put the application off until Sept. 19.

"Until a Superior Court judge rules on the issue, this board doesn't have jurisdiction," he said.

Among issues the board still was working out with the applicant was how to get traffic to and from Route 35 and the building's height.

"The board felt it was in the best interest to digest the suit, it was just filed yesterday (Tuesday), and I got it this afternoon," Leckstein said.


(c)2011 the Asbury Park Press (Neptune, N.J.)

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