published Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Stringer's Ridge apartments to be built despite Red Bank rezoning denial

New apartments should be added to Stringer's Ridge over the next couple of years, but the developer of the rental units was denied permission to build an entrance to the complex along Ashmore Avenue in Red Bank.

Members of Red Bank City Commission voted 2-1 Tuesday night to deny a request to rezone parcels in the 1900 block of Ashmore Avenue from a single-family to a multi-family zone to accommodate a developer's plans for the new apartments.

Despite the denial, Marcus Lyons of Blue Star Properties said he still plans to purchase a site on Stringer's Ridge already zoned for apartments from home builder Jay Bell. Lyons said he may decrease his original proposal for 250-300 apartments once he finalizes his plans later this year.

"We might be able to get the same amount of units," he said Wednesday.

Lyons 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 the zoning decision until the full council was present, but his motion 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 rezoning request Tuesday 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," Roberts said.

The Red Bank City Hall was packed with neighbors to the proposed project, who wore red shirts and stickers reading "Save Ashmore Avenue." During the public hearing, 17 residents spoke against the zoning change, complaining that the project would worsen traffic and hurt property values and the quality of the neighborhood.

Residents also were 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. "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 probably 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.

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6508.

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