Red Bank nixes rezoning request for proposed Ashmore Avenue apartments

New apartments will be built within the year on Stringer’s Ridge, but the developer was denied permission to build the entrance of the complex on two parcels of land on Ashmore Avenue.

Members of Red Bank City Commission voted 2-1 on first reading March 18 to deny a request to rezone parcels at 1918 and 1924 Ashmore Ave. from R-1 to R-3.

Marcus Lyons of Blue Star Properties, who plans to purchase a parcel of land on Stringer’s Ridge already zoned R-3 from Jay Bell, stated that he plans to build an apartment complex on the ridge whether or not 1918 and 1924 Ashmore Ave. are rezoned. He said the rezoning of the two parcels would allow for a higher quality development with lower density and room for more green spaces and amenities.

Before the vote, Vice Mayor Floy Pierce made a motion to postpone it until the full board was present, which failed for lack of a second.

“I know that each of us wants to be fair,” she said. “I want to give the community time to become aware of the advantages and disadvantages.”

Commissioner Eddie Pierce said he wanted to go ahead and resolve the issue despite the absence of Commissioner Rick Causer, who was out of town. Eddie Pierce and Mayor John Roberts voted to deny the request.

“I just looked at the overall picture,” said Roberts in a phone conversation, as to why he voted to deny the rezoning request.

City Hall was packed with residents of the Ashmore Avenue area, who wore red shirts and stickers reading “Save Ashmore Avenue.” The main issues expressed by the 17 residents who spoke in opposition to the rezoning involved traffic, property values and quality of life in the neighborhood.

Residents were also upset by Lyons’ threats to build a “Class C” development as opposed to a “Class A” development if the rezoning request did not pass.

“I hate being held hostage,” said James A. Webster, adding, “my real beef tonight is safety and the status of Ashmore Avenue.”

Lyons said he will spend the next couple months finalizing the development and construction will begin toward the end of the year. The complex should be complete within 14-18 months after construction begins, he said.

More than $17 million will be invested into the complex, which will have one-, two- and three-bedroom units renting for between $950 and $1,300, said Lyons. He said one factor of the development that may be affected by the denial of his rezoning request is the number of units, which may decrease from the 250-300 he had originally planned to build.

“We might be able to get the same amount of units on,” he said.

The commission will vote on the rezoning issue again Tuesday, April 1 at 7 p.m.