The Red Bank Zoning Board has a thing about color.
When developers for the West Side Lofts came before the zoning board last year, the issue that raised the most debate and caused the most consternation for its members had little to do with the project itself, a nearly-block large housing and commercial development located on the west side. Potential parking problems and traffic woes didn't measure up to this issue, nor did the fact that the building would require other long-standing buildings and businesses to be torn down.
What bothered the board enough that it demanded a change in order to grant its approval was the proposed development's color. The board wanted more industrial brick throwback and less Miami sound machine. The developer consented.
On Thursday the color cops were back at it. Their focus this time a small frozen yogurt shop located somewhere alongside a Dunkin' Donuts and a Rite Aid in the City Centre Plaza shopping center on West Front Street. Though maintaining the neighborhood aesthetic was apparently the reason for demanding the West Side Lofts to change colors, this instance didn't come with much of an excuse other than "we don't like those colors."
You see, Yo Mon Yogurt has a Jamaican theme. Along with the frozen yogurt comes reggae music, a beach aesthetic, and, as graphic designer Jeff Cahill said, colors, colors everywhere. For the Red Bank Zoning Board the issue here is "everywhere."
Looking for site plan approval specifically to install awnings at its north and south entrances, the board instead took issue with an artistic rendering that showed benches and tables outside. No, the issue wasn't the benches and tables themselves - those were approved at a prior meeting - but the color. Red benches and small lime green cocktail tables are no good, the board concluded.
When Yo Mon first came before the board in October, the outdoor benches were an issue. The store owner fought with the board over the right, not to have benches outside, but to have colored benches outside. The owners first wanted blue benches but later opted for red benches since the specific blue color used on the bench clashed with the blue of the proposed awning - think of one of those mismatching top and bottom denim disasters the fashion unfortunate sometimes sport.
Red, in keeping with the brand's red, white, and blue logo, was the obvious choice for the bench color swap.
The switch, however, wasn't so simple. The applicant had to produce color swatches, which were then written into evidence, and the zoning board even took a short break to determine if it had actually permitted colored benches or not the first time around. After determining that they kinda, sorta had by making an administrative ruling to that effect, they instead turned their focus to the tiny 18-inch line green tables that would sit next to the red benches.
A complaint about the tables' color, oddly enough, was first brought up by board member Karen Waldman, herself wearing a lime green shirt. Despite hearing that the applicant had already purchased the furniture, the board, led by Chairwoman Lauren Nicosia, pushed for a change to the table color.
"I like red," she said.
The applicant balked at the notion. Cahill, a professional in the field of design, said the green was chosen because it matches the green of the tables inside. The coordinating colors from outside to inside helps create better flow and atmosphere, let alone keeps offending contrast to a minimum.
The board, however, was not dissuaded. When asked if the applicant would consider changing the color to something less offensive, the reply was a steadfast "no," and that they'd rather not have tables outside than change the color from lime green to something else.
Whether it was a bluff or not, Nicosia called it, eliminating the outdoor tables from the site plan altogether, effectively banning lime green tables.
Despite the color conundrum, Yo Mon appears to have been given the (lime) green light to start planning for an opening date. A resolution of site plan approval, with the lime green tables extricated from the design, was written pending input from Red Bank RiverCenter. Should RiverCenter OK the site plan then the board will likely vote to approve the Yo Mon plan at its next meeting on May 17.
From then, Yo Mon will be free to schedule its opening, just without outdoor tables.