With reference to your article about the Shadowbrook expansion (February 26), it is essential that the public understand that the expanded building will be almost three times the size of the existing building. It will crowd the east and west property boundaries. It will be enormous, looming over the surrounding residential neighborhood. Noises from the parking lots, traffic, deliveries, garbage pickup, and yes, weddings, will be much closer to neighbors’ houses and louder and more frequent. Surrounding residential property values will be hugely impacted.
This is all so that Mr. Kourgelis and his business associates can make more money.
Shortly after he and his associates purchased the Shadowbrook in early 2015, Mr. Kourgelis gave an interview with the Asbury Park Press. The Press article reads, in part: “Nothing is expected to change for the Shadowbrook catering facility under its new ownership, including its name.” … “The only real changes planned are to ‘give it a little shot of love,’ he [Kourgelis] said. And that means sprucing up the location, refreshing wallpaper, making minor repairs and revitalizing the garden and grounds, Kourgelis explained.” This article may explain why, a few months later when Mr. Kourgelis applied to the Shrewsbury Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) for this huge expansion, many people were complacent.
The New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law is clear that a ZBA should not grant a variance to expand a nonconforming business use in a residential zone purely to increase that business’s profitability. Expansion should be allowed only if it is minimal and if there is a significant compensating benefit to the public and no significant damage is done to the zoning plan of the town. These conditions are egregiously violated by this expansion plan. In fact, the Shrewsbury ZBA correctly denied expansion applications by the Shadowbrook more than once in the past.
The current ZBA granted other variances to Mr. Kourgelis with, again, only flimsy justification. These include building height (greater than allowed), percentage of lot building coverage (greater than allowed) percentage of lot impervious coverage (greater than allowed), and number of parking spaces (far fewer than required). The ZBA allowed 28 feet to be taken out of the 50-foot buffer zone on the west property line for a ramp for delivery trucks and garbage trucks to back up to a loading dock.
This project is absolutely wrong in the center of our residential neighborhood. And we think it is wrong for the town. The existing Shadowbrook, cherished by so many people, will no longer exist. It will be replaced by a huge wedding factory.
As was evident at the ZBA meeting on February 8, many neighbors and townspeople object to this expansion. Over a dozen households are currently sharing legal expenses to appeal the ZBA decision.
To be clear, we do not object to the existing Shadowbrook being internally renovated and modernized. We sincerely hope that is what is done. We believe that the Shadowbrook can be a successful, profitable business within the existing building.
Richard and Patricia Windecker
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