Bigger & Better Buildings

The community of Red Bank and their “consultants” may be working on a new Master Plan, but speculators and investors already have theirs… Cram in as much inappropriate and unsustainable development as possible just in case the new plan isn’t sympathetic to them in the future. A characteristic of the current master plan has been the ability to enable aggressive developers to sidestep zoning and planning requirements, as well as borough policies on affordable and low-income housing.

An “architect” conceived this carbunkle on Mechanic and Globe

Sure, they’re going to concoct traffic studies, environmental audits and other collaborating “evidence” to support their claim. Then throw in a couple of affordable (whatever that means at the moment) housing units in, quite likely a couple of run-down properties as far from their palace as possible to assuage bleeding hearts’ consciences and try to hide anything that could be described as a “poor door”.

Of course, it’s a little more difficult than that. First of all make a totally inappropriate and unfeasible application to the Zoning and Planning committees, suffer objections from the community, go away with tail between their legs… Come back for a second time with a couple of “concessions” and an expensive lawyer, cite hearsay as evidence and get an okay, because, “Just think how much worse it could have been.”

This isn’t a matter of being against development. Personally, I’m all for increasing residential density, especially in the downtown area for many reasons of viability and sustainability. But development has to be tempered by the spirit of the whole community. New-build has to be based on actual need, equity and reinforcing the resilience of this town no matter what the future may bring. For sure that includes the unexpected and the predicted. Is there anyone here who would have made a prediction about the next couple of years just three years ago? So who knows, right? Why continue to build albatrosses to hang around our necks?

Killian Alley, formerly known as Mechanic St, and its historic collection of 19thC infrastructure

Hopefully, the new master plan will take concepts of equity, community and appropriate development into account, not just meekly seek “affordable” accommodation. Demand low-cost homes for workers in downtown businesses. I mean, if the boro’ can show largesse to selected restauranteurs on “Broadwalk” the least we can do is make sure their workers have the opportunity to live locally.

And remember, Red Bank occupies barely two square miles built on antiquated and decaying utility infrastructure. Our waterfront is already being challenged by rising sea levels and increasingly severe storm surges. The quality of our environment teeters on the edge of catastrophe. Our streets are dangerous and unpleasant when they should be a constituent part of this community’s health and well-being strategy. And when will this town capitalise on its NJT Transport Village status?

Sustainable, appropriate building with resilient and energy-efficient materials by design for Red Bank. Is it too much to ask?

And then there’s the Killian proposal. Maybe 75 new bathrooms contributing to RB’s sewage system and literally just around the corner from the collapsing mains and sewers in Broad St. At least another 150+ car movements/day in and around the block and knock on issues throughout the town, with no real consideration of the impact on multi-modal movement. Then there’s maintaining 2MW/day electricity supply hanging off the local utility pole…

So Mr (it’s always Mr, isn’t it) Developer. Start thinking about how you can contribute to this cool little town. Stop thinking of it as a pool of marks eager to buy shoddy, inappropriate and ill-serviced housing stock, and if you’re going to build, Build Back Better.

Meanwhile, Master Plan compilers, think of The Big Picture.

Author: Alan E Hill
Stranger in a strange land

1 thought on “Bigger & Better Buildings

  1. Yup, propose a building that’s too tall, way to dense, get rejected, and then come back with something that’s a little shorter and a little less dense. And if that doesn’t work, get the Council to give you a little spot-zoning.

    It feels like the Zoning and Planning Boards and the Council have started to hear the public displeasure with the big buildings, but we’ll see if they stay strong against the developers.

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