RED BANK — A proposal to construct a six-story hotel at the borough’s northern entrance, which has seen its share of wrinkles, developed ano encountered another on Monday when Ron Gasiorowski, an attorney representing an objector to the application, said that the height of the proposed structure exceeds what is permitted under borough ordinances.The planning board had been scheduled to continue hearing the application by RBank Capital LLC to construct a 76-room Hampton Inn, at the Highway 35 and Rector Place intersection, overlooking the Swimming River.But after a discussion between representatives for the developer, the objector and the planning board attorney the hearing was adjourned until January.The hearing was placed on hold when a representative for the objector discovered a provision in a borough ordinance that restricts a building’s height to 50 feet in the zone if it falls halfway between the river and the nearest parallel roadway, with the ordinance pertaining to such roadways as Front Street, Riverside Avenue, Rector Place and Shrewsbury Avenue.According to prior testimony, the height of the proposed hotel is approximately 80 feet.Following the adjournment, Planning Board Attorney Michael Leckstein said that when hearings resume, the attorney for the developer, Martin A. McGann Jr. will have to show that the project does not violate the ordinance.“I’m not aware of that section,” (of the applicable ordinance) and would have to review it, Leckstein said. Board Engineer Christine Ballard agreed, noting that the language of the ordinance was not clear. “It’s very fuzzy,” she said.McGann said afterwards that the issue at hand is “a very technical point,” but one “I think we’ll be able to address it at the next meeting,” on Jan. 18.This is the latest development in the long hearings on this matter, which over the months has seen a debate over whether it should be heard by the zoning board or planning; over the zoning of the property, and if this would be deemed a permitted use, and the borough council’s decision to change the zoning in hopes of clarifying the issue. A borough resident also brought a lawsuit against the board and developer seeking to block the project, expressing concerns over the size and scope of the plan and arguing it should go before the zoning board to seek a use variance. There also was considerable debate over who is actually the objector, with the objector’s attorney, Ron Gasiorowski, acknowledging there is another party that is paying for the lawsuit, but the lawyer refuses to name that additional party.If the application does violate the ordinance provision, it could mean the application would have to go before the borough zoning board of adjustment (as the named objector, borough resident Steve Mitchell, has maintained in his suit) to seek a variance for a non-permitted use, which has a considerably higher burden of proof than would be required before the planning board. That would mean the process would have to start from the beginning before the zoning board.The developer would like to construct the hotel on the site of a former Exxon gas station, which has been vacant for approximately 14 years. Mitchell, the objector, has argued the project violates existing zoning, is too large for the site, as well as raising issue with contamination of the property.
The last time a car was stolen in Rumson was on Sept. 22, from a home on Holly Tree Lane. The 2014 BMW X5 was recovered in damaged condition in New York City on Oct. 27, following an investigation by state police called Operation 17 Corridor.In 2011, three luxury cars were stolen from Rumson homes in July and August.When Rumson Police receive a car theft report, they enter it into a national crime database and notify the NJ State Police Auto Theft Task Force. Sometimes they take the extra step of contacting the Newark Police Dept. directly, Isherwood said.“There are auto theft rings based out of Newark Essex County area,” said Isher wood. “The cars can be stolen and resold on the black market,” he said. In some cases, the cars are loaded onto container ships and sent abroad, he said. RUMSON – Police are investigating reports of two vehicles stolen on the night of Wednesday, July 20.The unlocked cars were stolen out of the driveways of homes on Avenue of Two Rivers and Robin Road sometime between 9 p.m. and 5:45 a.m., according to Det. Sgt. Christopher Isherwood. The cars were identified as a 2016 Range Rover and a 2015 BMW X3. There were also reports by residents that their cars were rummaged through that night.“The common thread with these crimes is that the vehicles were not locked. It is imperative that residents keep vehicles locked and keep valuables somewhere secure,” said Isherwood.Oftentimes electronic key fobs are present in or near the vehicles, making it easy for thieves.“With this push button start in cars, it not like the old days like when you had to carry a key around. Sometimes people leave them in the car, or even on the kitchen counter,” said Isherwood. He explained that if the car is parked near the vicinity of the kitchen, for example, it could be possible to enter and easily start the car.
By Liz SheehanSEA BRIGHT-Who knew that bocce and cornhole could generate so much controversy?Residents of the Nautilus Condominiums in the borough did, and are continuing to fight the plans of Tommy Bonfiglio, the owner of the popular Tommy’s Tavern + Tap on Ocean Avenue, to place a bocce court and several cornhole tossing games in an area that borders the Shrewsbury River behind the restaurant, adjacent to their home.The bocce court was put in play when the restaurant opened in the summer of 2015. But after noise complaints, the bocce balls were stored away last summer. Outdoor noise is new to the neighborhood, since the building that houses Tommy’s used to serve as the town’s post office until it was wrecked in Super Storm Sandy.Now, Bonfiglio wants to resume the games. It’s part of his application before the Unified Planning Board to utilize a portion of the restaurant’s second floor for private parties, and add a 29-space parking lot next to his restaurant. (Before Sandy, it was a Sunoco gas station.)The area where the bocce court is located, Bonfiglio said, is fenced in with gates and would be closed at 10 p.m. The idea is to give patrons waiting for tables something to do, instead of crowding the hostess desk and bar in the front.At the board meeting on Tuesday night, Bonfiglio said that no food or drinks would be served in the fenced area but patrons could carry drinks there from the bar, and there would be several high top tables in the area for standing, not sitting.He estimated that 79 people could be accommodated in the area, but board member David DeSio said he observed around 100 people there, when the area was open.Dennis McLynn, who owns a condominium at the Nautilus, said he had spoken to Bonfiglio two years ago and asked him why he had put the bocce court at the north end of the open area in back of the restaurant, right next to the property line adjacent to the Nautilus, rather than at the south end, which would be a longer distance from the condominium and cause less noise for the residents there. He said Bonfiglio responded that the south end was reserved for a future tiki bar.McLynn said he fears that next year Bonfiglio will be looking for board approval to add a tiki bar to the riverside site.Stephen Raciti, the architect for the Tommy’s project, outlined the changes he had made to alleviate the noise from the restaurant, including soundproofing on a canopy on the rear outside dining area that faces toward the Nautilus, and soundproofing in a portion of the roof of the canopy.Ron Gasiorowski, an attorney representing Hank Gelhaus, who lives across the river from Tommy’s and objects to the noise, questioned Marc Leber, the engineer for Bonfiglio’s application. He asked if he was aware that Bonfiglio attended a meeting held by Monmouth County officials in April, at which the plans for moving the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge were discussed. Leber said he was not aware of it.At the meetings concerning the moving of the bridge, the county has said that the parking lot now being used to fulfill the parking requirements for Tommy’s application to make the upstairs room into a space for private parties was necessary for bridge plans to accommodate left hand turns from Ocean Avenue, for access to the Dunkin’ Donuts area.Bonfiglio’s attorney Martin McGann said after the last board meeting that the county had told him it would not stop his client with proceeding with his plans to use the lot for the restaurant’s parking application. “It’s our property,” he said.The board will continue hearings on the application on January 24.
By Jay Cook |MIDDLETOWN –Middletown is the largest municipality in Monmouth County, but when it comes to the amount of land set aside for open space, how does it compare to others?Better than you would think, Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger told residents earlier this week.Spread across 41 square miles, Middletown has about 5,500 acres of preserved open space inside its township borders – and up to 6,000 if land with conservation easements are counted, Scharfenberger said.To put it in perspective, that’s equal in total acreage to the size of two Atlantic Highlands, four Fair Havens and seven Sea Brights. “That’s very impressive, and I don’t think people realize the extent of what we have here,” Scharfenberger said.The Dec. 5 land use forum at the Middletown Arts Center was the fourth held by Scharfenberger and township administrator Tony Mercantante in the past 18 months. Other land use forums focused on development and redevelopment, revitalizing Route 36 and land-use planning. Tuesday night’s theme was how to prevent overdevelopment while encouraging sensible growth. The officials gave an overview on Middletown’s current open space situation, which they believe will improve as 2018 approaches.Looking at the NumbersMercantante said Middletown has been active in acquiring open space through the state Green Acres program since around 1999. The program provides funding so municipalities can add land to their inventories.According to Mercantante, there have been 17 Green Acres acquisitions totaling 223 acres. The total purchase cost is about $26 million, of which the township was obliged to pay $10.3 million, with the remainder covered by different public and private entities.“The biggest challenge is negotiating with property owners, trying to come to terms with acquiring a piece of property and then decide why we’re acquiring it,” Mercantante said.The most expensive of those 17 properties is the 40-acre Fisher-Stern plot, which became part of the Monmouth County Park System in 2005 as the Claypit Creek extension to Hartshorne Woods. The property was acquired with help from the county, Monmouth Conservation Foundation (MCF), the state’s Green Acres Program and the township. That single purchase cost those entities a total of $10.4 million at the time, with Middletown paying $1.9 million.Middletown open space purchases are funded through a two-cent tax per $100 of assessed property valuation, Scharfenberger said. That open space tax first commenced in 1999, when Middletown became active in purchasing property.That tax complements the new county Open Space Trust Fund tax increase approved by voters in November. When it goes into effect in 2018, the county projects over $14 million more annually available in the fund.Scharfenberger said the final piece to the open space puzzle should come in the next calendar year. About $1.5 million is owed to Middletown by the state through purchase reimbursements. Not having that money has limited the township, both officials said, and they anticipate more purchases coming in the near future.“Now we’re building a little bit of a war chest and looking around to purchase more open space as those reimbursements come in from the state,” Scharfenberger said.Success StoriesPreserving the right pieces of land has been the focus of Middletown’s open space mission over the past two decades, Mercantante said. With it comes the balance of preservation and development, considering “every property owner has the right to utilize their property in some reasonable fashion,” he said.Outside of the Fisher-Stern property, he highlighted two other instances where residential or commercial development was halted and that land was purchased.The first piece of open space is Bicentennial Park, a 10-acre swath of wooded land, a brook and pond, with a walking pier out to the water. It’s bordered by Route 35 South (and a Burger King) but stretches back along Twin Brooks Avenue and Spruce Drive on either side. Mercantante said the “great piece of open space” was proposed as a condo-office complex but the township stepped in to purchase the area. The $850,000 total price tag cost Middletown $425,000.The other noted property is Swimming River Park, a county-owned park planned for redevelopment in the next few years. For decades the site was Chris’ Landing, a popular boat launch for small watercraft and recreational kayakers, anchored by Chris’ Deli on site. Scharfenberger said a developer had plans to build a housing complex on the 16-acre site, but MCF and the county stepped in to purchase the land for $3.8 million in 2015.Refurbishing Forgotten ParksWith 49 active parks in town ranging from Lincroft to Leonardo, some have fallen by the wayside and could be earmarked for upgrades or new uses.The best example, Mercantante said, is the forlorn Camp Hope buried back in Lincroft Acres off Newman Springs Road. The old campground is accessible by a dirt road behind the two soccer fields and is surrounded by the Swimming River watershed.The day camp for children with disabilities was shut down about a decade ago and remains closed. In the years since, the pool, pergola, picnic tables and facilities have fallen into disrepair. This year, Mercantante said a nonprofit organization contacted the town looking to reestablish a summer camp in Middletown, and Camp Hope was the first location on his mind.Middletown is working with them now, he said, to install another pool and improve the facilities.Finding new purposes for other recreational parks in town will be a focus as well. Mercantante said repurposing Middletown’s three outdoor roller hockey rinks will be on the agenda. Two of those are currently shut down, he said, and the third is scarcely used anymore. What could they turn into? Maybe pickleball, he said, considering the sport’s growing popularity and requests from residents.“Those are the kinds of things we always have to be mindful of in the future, either using existing fields or construction of new ones,” Mercantante said.On the other hand, there are no plans to replace the Cavadas Skate Park on Pulsch Street in Belford, Scharfenberger said.Opened in 2003 after being purchased for $165,000, the 0.7-acre skate park was shut down by the township in 2010 amid concerns from township police. Scharfenberger said the “major league headache” had over 500 complaints to the police in one year. “It just didn’t pay for the upkeep and constant repairs,” he said.“We see no need nor desire on our part to reopen it,” he added. “That’s closed for the foreseeable future.”This article was first published in the Dec. 7-14, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
Castlegar gave the third-place Leafs a little breathing room by knocking off the Murdoch leaders 3-1 Thursday in the Sunflower City. But Nelson still trails Beaver Valley by 14 points.Authur Andrews and Tyler Robinson scored first period goals and Jordan Gluck made 30 saves to spark the Rebel win.The win keeps the Rebels within striking distance — three points — of the Hawks. The teams meet again Friday in Fruitavale.Meanwhile the Leafs travel to Spokane before hosting the Braves in the annual New Years Eve clash at 2 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.Grand Forks, the other Murdoch Division teams, is idle until January 6 when the Bruins host Castlegar. The Nelson Leafs return to the ice today as the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League club begins the unofficial second half to the Junior B season Friday in Spokane.Nelson, 19-13-0-2, enters the final stretch with little room for error as the club trails the two Murdoch Division front runners — Beaver Valley and Castlegar — each by more than 10 points.
Coy Prevost of Kimberley and Ross Amour also scored for the Ice.Justin Bowerman scored twice to lead the T-Birds.Saturday, Kootenay, playing perhaps its best game of the season, scored a season high seven goals en route to the lopsided victory.“We had a fantastic game Saturday,” Wright exclaimed. “Even Sunday I thought the guys played very hard and deserved better.”Trevor Van Steinburg of Cranbrook scored twice to lead the Ice.Spencer McLean of Montrose, Ryan Neil of Fruitvale, Podgorenko, Nelson’s Sam Weber and Jacob Yuris of Trail also scored for the Ice.Provost, a Western Hockey League draft pick of the Saskatoon Blades, finished Saturday’s game with three assists.Jason Mailhiot and Carson Schamerhorn, both of Trail shared the netminding duties in goal during the weekend for Kootenay.Kootenay takes to the road for two very tough games Saturday and Sunday against the Vancouver Northwest Giants.The Giants hold down second spot in league standings, four points behind leading Okanagan Rockets.“This will be a very good test for us,” said Wright. “So we’re going to focus on having a great week of practice and work on our zone coverage in the defensive zone.” The Kootenay Ice missed a golden opportunity to climb the B.C. Hockey Major Midget League standings during a weekend home series.Costly penalties down the stretch proved to unravel the Ice, allowing the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds to escape with a 4-3 victory Sunday at the NDCC Arena.Kootenay, 3-9-2 on the season, remain a point behind Fraser Valley and five back in the race for the final playoff spot. The Ice opened the two-game set Saturday with a 7-3 victory in Nelson.“For the first time this season we got a little undisciplined and that cost us,” said Ice skipper Robbie Wright.“(Fraser Valley) is a big strong club and a couple of their guys started running around and got under our skin.”“But overall on the weekend I thought we played well, it was just a couple of bad penalties that really hurt us Sunday,” Wright added.Trailing 3-1 in the third, Nelson’s Justin Podgorenko pulled Kootenay to within a marker of Fraser Valley.However, the Ice took three penalties, two at the 9:34 mark of the third period with the Thunderbirds already being assess a minor penalty, to kill any momentum.
Kootenay Rhythm Dragons – Sisters In Sync aligned a First Place finish in the Women’s Championship “B” Division at the Kelowna Dragon Boat Festival held recently in the Central Okanagan City. The Sisters, with six new paddlers and contributions from a few other teams, captured the the B Championship Division and a fourth place overall.Mallard’s Source for sports would like to recognize the Kootenay Rhythm Dragons — Sisters In Sync with Team of the Week honours.The team includes, Carla Klein, Janet Stephenson, Jocelyn Davies, Frances Long, Deb Rhyder, Lena Guignion, Maggie Mulvihill, Brooke Campbell, Louise Andrew, Melissa Michaud, Amy Grumme, Mary Walters, Pat Gibson, Cath Little, coach Puleng Pratt, Marlene Pozin, Deb Smith, Tammy Nygaard, Peggy Scott, Dawn Jacobsen, Diane Tulloch(Steersperson), Verna Poohachoff and Jill Jacobsen.Next up for the squad is a Penticton event in September.
It was not the start to the playoffs the Nelson Leafs players wanted.Allan Pruss scored twice to lead the Beaver Valley Nitehawks to a 5-0 trashing of the Leafs in Game one of the Murdoch Division Semi Final Friday in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League action in Fruitvale.Game two is Saturday back at the Hawks’ Nest.Pruss, who finished the game with three points, scored twice in the third period to put the game away for the home side. Sam Swanson and Jace Weegar scored in the first and second periods, respectively, to give the Hawks a 2-0 advantage after 40 minutes.Taylor Stafford scored a shorthanded marker late in the game to complete the scoring.Drake Poirier stopped all 22 shots to register the shutout.Nelson struggled to muster any offence during the game, registering only five shots in the second period.Dylan Williamson, back from an injury, was Nelson’s game star while Poirier was named player-of-the-game for Beaver Valley.The series shifts to Nelson for Game three and four, Monday and Tuesday.Puck drop is 7 p.m.Beaver Valley has eliminated Nelson from post season play in three of the past four seasons.
Wheeldon, 20, came up through the ranks of Nelson Minor Hockey before latching on with the Kootenay Ice of the BC Hockey Major Midget League in 2009.The next season he earned a spot with hometown Nelson Leafs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League where he had 11 points in 44 games.Wheeldon’s high-octane play earned him a spot in the BC Hockey League with Trail Smoke Eaters from 2011-14.In 140 games with the Smokies, Wheeldon accumulated 39 points.However, Wheeldon left Trail during the offseason, playing his final season in the AJHL with Camrose.Wheeldon, 20, completed a successful season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with Camrose where the 5’11”, 200-pound forward scored 10 goals while adding 14 assists in 59 games with the AJHL South regular season champions.”The Kodiaks organization would like to congradulate Adam and his family on this achievement in his hockey career and we look forward to many more years of hockey and education,” Rybalka said in closing.Wheeldon joins a host of graduating players from the AJHL choosing to remain in Alberta to find offers on the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference team. Nelson Minor Hockey grad Adam Wheeldon has accepted an offer to attend Concordia University in Edmonton.Concordia plays in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference against college and university teams from throughout Alberta.“Adam will have an impact from day one with the team,” said Kodiaks coach and GM Boris Rybalka on the team website.“His style of play will make him a fan favourite and opposition players will need to keep their heads up when he is on the ice.”“Coach Glegloff is excited about having Adam attend Concordia as he sees his leadership and compete level paying dividends to the program,” Rybalka adds.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas – As has been the tradition during the holiday season for years, the Stephen F. Austin Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) once again teamed up with the Toys for Tots organization to provide a joyous holiday season for individuals and families around the Nacogdoches area.The Lumberjacks’ SAAC coordinated toy drives during the SFA’s Nov. 15 home football game against Northwestern State, the Dec. 1 women’s basketball game against Wiley College and the Dec. 7 men’s basketball game against Louisiana Tech.In addition to the toys collected during the three drives, various Stephen F. Austin student-athletes also donated toys during their team Christmas parties. Those offerings were added to the haul collected from SFA’s three games.Toys for Tots began in 1947 and has become an avenue for raising funds and purchasing toys. The organization currently distributes 18 million toys to seven million less fortunate children annually.As part of the “Southland Gives Back” initiative, the Southland Conference will profile a community service outing from each of our 13 member institutions this holiday season.