A legal settlement has been reached that will allow the Welsh Farms at East Front Street, Red Bank, to be converted into a 7-Eleven.
However, Red Bank's second 7-Eleven will not operate overnight after a legal fight that saw the denial of the property owner's application, the adoption of a "noise ordinance" and a suit that ended up in Superior Court.
The borough Planning Board unanimously agreed Monday night to accept a settlement proposed by applicant Dina Enterprises and end litigation concerning the denial of their bid to convert the store. Under the agreement, the 7-Eleven would operate from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., mirroring the hours found in the "noise ordinance," which restricts retail businesses located within 100 feet of residential housing from operating from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
"They (Dina Enterprises) totally conceded all the issues... and agreed as an inducement to settle the case that the hours would be 6 to 11," board attorney Michael Leckstein said.
Philip San Filippo, Dina Enterprises' attorney, said, "It was always our intention to be a good neighbor."
However, two residents who spoke at Monday's hearing have concerns about their future neighbor.
John Hawthorn of Hubbard Park objected to 7-Eleven opening at 6 a.m., saying noise would be disruptive to nearby residents.
"You don't have to cave in and give them an hour," he said. "Stick to 7 to 11 as the time-line."
Leckstein told him it was "not a matter of the town caving." Rather, the 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. provision mirrors the borough's ordinance and "if the applicant was successful, it wouldn't be 6 to 11, it would be 24 hours."
However, Hawthorn was successful with complaints about the property being used as a de facto taxi dispatch service, with cabbies idling in the parking lot at all hours of the night and morning. San Filippo stipulated that there was no agreement with any cabbies for use of the property, nor would there be.
"We will not permit this to be a taxi waiting area," San Filippo said.
Dina Enterprises' plan is to rehabilitate the existing structure and add a 356-square-foot addition to house a refrigerator. The revised plan as submitted asked for no variances, meaning all aspects conformed to existing code. San Fillippo promised Dina would make landscaping and other aesthetic improvements. Additionally, San Filippo responded to concerns about overnight lighting by stipulating that the lot will be lit with the "minimum needed for security," in Leckstein's words.
"The building is going to get a great upgrade," said board member Daniel Mancuso. "It is going to be a nice visual improvement."
Mayor Pat Menna agreed. "The applicant should be commended; it's a much better plan for everybody."
The Red Bank Council's introduction of its anti-noise ordinance late in April coincided with the discussion over the 7-Eleven's hours of operation, which council members said was a coincidence.
"The ordinance was put into effect to protect the residents," Menna said Monday.
Currently, there are several 24-hour businesses in Red Bank, including two convenience stores — Wawa and 7-Eleven — and the Broadway Diner on Monmouth Street.