Approved Ordinances Give Hotel Plan New Hope
Clarification of nebulous zoning ordinances means good things for a potential hotel project.
A plan to build a six-story Hampton Inn and Suites was dismissed by the Red Bank Planning Board more than a month ago, yet it’s closer now to becoming a reality than ever before.
First, an explanation.
RBank Capital, LLC, was looking to build the six-story hotel on a piece of riverside property just over an acre at the base of the Route 35 bridge entering Middletown. Though initial complaints from objectors focused on several issues, including property size – too small, they said – as well as potential health hazards – the site is home to an abandoned gas station – the one that eventually stuck was tied to a muddled ordinance the seemed to prohibit riverside development to just 50 feet.
After Wednesday’s council meeting, that’s no longer an issue.
Borough council approved several ordinances that clarify previous ordinances for the waterfront development zone in an effort to provide clarification and uniformity to the area. Though past ordinances seemed to restrict the height of buildings in the zone to 50, 75, and 140 feet, seemingly simultaneously, the final decision is that 75 feet is the way to go.
In terms of zoning, proposed buildings can exceed the height restriction by a little over 7 feet without requiring a variance. That means a proposed plan, like a hotel, for instance, could be as tall as 82 feet.
And the height of the proposed Hampton Inn and Suites? Eighty-two feet.
“It’s positive; I’m more positive,” Larry Cohen, managing partner of RBank Capital said following the meeting. “It just makes it clear what the height is.”
Though the approval of the ordinances is a positive for Cohen and the rest of the investment group behind the hotel, it’s still far from a sure thing. Firstly, the new ordinances will need to be approved at the county level. Cohen has to resubmit the application eventually. Then there are the two — and possibly three soon — lawsuits aimed at stopping the development. Can’t forget about the contamination at the site caused by underground gas tanks, and then of course there’s necessary New Jersey Department of Transportation approval to create an entrance, too.
So, the proposed hotel isn’t a sure thing, but it’s considerably closer to getting done than it was prior to Wednesday’s meeting.
“It’s all just part of the development process,” Cohen said.
Cohen would not say when or if RBank plans on resubmitting its application to the Planning Board, though he admitted the clarification of the zoning ordinances was a necessary first step toward getting back on track.