By NINA RIZZO
COASTAL MONMOUTH BUREAU – The Zoning Board of Adjustment Thursday night gave preliminary site plan approval to a developer who will convert an abandoned nursing home on Route 66 into a Holiday Inn Express hotel.
The applicant, Neptune Lodging Realty LLC, requested a height variance, as well as several design and bulk variances, from the board so it can redevelop the former Forrest View assisted-living facility on 4.9 acres at 3510 Route 66.
The hotel will fit in the existing footprint of the nursing home, but a fourth floor will be added for a total 58,000 square feet. The fourth floor will only be visible from the back of the building because of the slope of the land.
During the hearing, which lasted more than three hours, residents and board members agreed that they supported the idea of rehabilitating an unused building. Many had concerns about increased traffic on an already congested roadway and runoff into Betty Brook. The developer said they would increase the amount of greenery to absorb runoff. “I think you’re doing a fabulous thing by rehabbing an old building,” Robin Price, chairwoman of the board, said before the unanimous vote.
Several board members said they would prefer that the developer install concrete impediments that would prohibit left turns out of the building, but their concerns weren’t strong enough to reject the application.
Joe Sears, another member who once worked at Forrest View, said he was glad to finally be rid of “an eyesore.”
The board took issue with the requested signage. It granted approval for the size of the curbside sign that the developer said was needed to draw customers from the road, but it denied the neon portion of the sign.
Dorian Tajfel, vice president of Hotels Unlimited, said he will ask Holiday Inn to concede to the board’s wishes.