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Next Door: Sex Shop Law Looked at Again

Mayor Pat Menna stresses that borough did not create zone that allows use

It's a topic of contention and it's happening in the next town over ...

In the interest of being a good neighbor and ensuring proper notice is given for Shrewsbury residents and officials to air their concerns, Red Bank has carried for further discussion its debated sex shop ordinance to Dec. 19.

“When there are zoning ordinances with changes (that are to occur) within 200 feet of an adjacent municipality you have to give notice, you have to advise them, which we would have done anyhow …” Mayor Pat Menna said at Wednesday night’s Borough Council meeting, speaking to flaws in noticing technicalities for the ordinance.

“They’re (Shrewsbury) right across the street. So, they have a right to be heard, they’re an interested party … We will respect the opinions of the adjacent municipality. We have a good relationship with Shrewsbury. They’re wonderful neighbors.”

With that, Menna, reiterating that there would be no vote on the matter, welcomed public comment. And neighboring Shrewsbury Councilman Anthony Pellegrino took him up on it.

Pellegrino raised concerns that the ordinance would permit businesses such as porn shops and nude dancing establishments within 200 feet, or across the street, from his borough and residences.

According to the ordinance, Red Bank’s Highway Business Zone, which covers a section of Newman Springs Road across from Shrewsbury residences, permits the use.

While Shrewsbury officials, Pellegrino said, require that there be a 1,000-foot separation between such businesses and residences, Red Bank’s degree of separation between the district and residences is in line with the state’s lesser 200 feet.

That’s where “I have a different interpretation,” Pellegrino said.

But, Red Bank is not creating the zone. It’s always existed, Menna stressed.

“If we were, in fact going in there and creating it, it would be a different story from something that’s already there,” the mayor explained. “It’s actually something that has been quietly there but could be challenged if somebody were denied an application, because it’s so vague.”

So, the borough tightened up, via the ordinance what can be allowed and exactly where, the where happening to be across the street from Shrewsbury residences.

The ordinance hones in on exactly what will and will not be allowed in adult-oriented businesses in the zone, from display of genitalia to sex paraphernalia. That objective, in Menna and other officials’ opinion, legally clears up ambiguity that could have attracted undesired business and staves off potential lawsuits..

The Highway Business Zone, on the Red Bank side of Newman Springs spans between New Jersey Transit's coastline and the westerly freight line. The stretch is an area largely occupied by car dealerships and other assorted businesses. 

Since the zone is in Red Bank, “the pros and cons of adjudication rest with the host municipality,” Red Bank, Menna said.

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