Rick Hennessey Tries to Relocate From Sea Bright to Highlands sans the Gulf


A few months after Superstorm Sandy, Sea Bright Service Station owner Rick Hennessey, had decided not to return to Sea Bright.  Partly due to Sandy, but also partly due to the relocation of the Rumson Bridge that could have forced a relocation eventually.

He had temporarily ran his business in Atlantic Highlands and is now trying to open shop in the Swanton building on Bay Ave across from Tinker’s shop.

This should be great news for Highlands. Someone who is established, has a following of existing customers and can quickly attract new people to Highlands.  Going to take an hour or two to fix the car? Go grab some lunch at the plenty of walkable restaurants.

Oh, did I forget to mention the hitch? Apparently there are some that don’t want him.. Auto is apparently a 4 letter word, that the certain people don’t want on Bay Avenue.

What do you think about another car shop opening in Highlands?

47 thoughts on “Rick Hennessey Tries to Relocate From Sea Bright to Highlands sans the Gulf

  1. BayAveBabs

    Why would ANYONE NOT WANT to welcome someone who wants to do business in this town? Oh wait… this is not the first time something like this has happened….

    Highlands nepotism at it’s finest. GRRRR!

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    1. Barbara Iannucci

      Where does the the HBP stand on this issue ?
      ….. “iin partnership with the town government to formulate, promote and implement the economic revitalization and general welfare of the Business Improvement District (BID) ” article 2.01

      Maybe HBP can help …. I understand they have some clout in this town, yes?

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    2. johnny u

      No objection from me. Good luck. Zoning should be changed to accept any service related business.We need more business not only in this town but everywhere where you can get something fixed or made.

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    3. johnny u

      Its just not zoned for auto repair.So Rick must follow the zoning process and go to the board Its zoned to be a quaint little chostsky shop town.I probably didn’t spell that right. The long and short of it is we should stop trying to control what a property owner wants to put in as a successful and profitable business as long as it isn’t detrimental to the good of the community.

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  2. duncan mccleod

    Are you kidding me??? Im sure Johnny U is just thrilled to have more competition in town. Im sure he will use all his connections to block this from happening!

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    1. johnny u

      Myself and Ricky have been friends for years number one.We work together and always have actually our services compliment each others.Only better for all our customers. Just because you seem to have a personal problem with me, Duncan research the facts before you comment. In other words engage your brain before you engage your mouth!

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  3. highlandsblog Post author

    I’m copying this from one of the “other” answers “Bay Ave not zoned for auto repair services, he has no mercantile” — Umm what street is that VW repair place on?? Anybody help me out here??

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    1. johnny u

      Auto imports is a licensed business and is in compliance.He has been there since his father owned it.Another asset to Highlands a someone here through the good the bad and ugly.

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  4. Maryjo Urbanski

    I am Johnny’s wife and we have no issue with Ricky opening a business!!!! So Duncan be careful of what u write when u don’t the facts!!!!!! Ricky and johnny r friends!!!!!John doesn’t need connections to block anything!!!!! It’s people like u that cause issues for the people and business.

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  5. Chris Hancock

    I have been a personal friend of Rick since we were around age 10 I have known the family for 40 years they have ran a business in Atlantic Highlands for I would say at least 50 or more years. After sea bright service got beat up in sandy the guy is trying to get back on his feet, and Highlands would definitely benefit with another shop opening up,come on people really. What kind of shop or seashell store do want there and by the way I am also good friends with Johnny U apparently Duncan you have no idea what you are talking about so like they said get your facts straight

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    1. A Huber Construction

      Free World Math (applicable to the US):

      Business:good- creates Jobs- improves Community-pays Taxes
      Competition:good- creates a fair market-place everybody winns

      However, If you live in Somalia, Colombia, Turkmenistan………
      Please adhere to your anti Business attitude and enjoy the outcome.

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  6. adam grier

    They’d be foolish not to let Rick open up there. He’s a class act, and if he ever wanted to relocate to SC, I’d let him open up in my front yard.

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  7. rockemsockem

    I would think its HPD blocking cause they seen to want to rebuild biz district to more”attractive aesthetically biz”. I think anyone interested should be welcome. Is there another place where it is already zoned available…there must be no? I only ask cause it would be easier for him to just open without a lot of BS.

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    1. A Huber Construction

      Yes You may be right about the aesthetic aspect, but isn’t the previous plan of having Commuters driving around town in Golf carts (dont want to go on about that previous administration’s SCI-FI plans) revised and we are getting back to earth?—-oh no there is still the Galveston plan on the books—-you cant make this up!

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  8. Mikeybay

    People need to realize any type of established business that wants to come into town should be met with open arms and given as much help as they need to open. The business district is hurting right now lots of closed businesses and empty buildings. It doesn’t help that the boro hall is closed up either. If everyone was smart we would team up with middletown share services, schools, and police to help balance the budget cause the town is nearly broke and that was before sandy. So I hope more people look to invest in the town and the members on the board pass reasonable things that could help the future of this town.

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  9. larry

    That building was granted a use variance specifically for auto repair. Use variances go with the land .I was on the zoning board when it was granted. It exists in the borough records .. I still currently sit on the planning board. Grant of a use variance is like loosing you virginity you do not get it back. This is what I have been told buy lawyers who do or have represented the town .The variance goes with the land.
    We also have a second problem here in town the zoning officer who has the option of deciding who goes before the board ignored the prior use variance and choose to sent it to the board this not surprising since he is employed by the towns engineer who make money every time someone goes before the board. He also sits at all council meeting and as the town engineer even though he is not licensed as a engineer !! The other party that opinions is the zoning board attorney he also get to cash out. The town could have help but they put up all the stops. Meanwhile Bay Ave looks like the death valley of business districts !!!

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    1. rockemsockem

      This is exactly the reason we need to clean house to stop all this funny business going on! Engineers with no degrees involved with our flood mitigation, houses falling down, money changing hands, dishonesty about site plans, blocking commerce all while residents struggle to rebuild their lives! How long are the people of this town going to ignore the same old nonsense………ENOUGH!

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    2. A Huber Construction

      Actually the Zoning and Building departments are one of the best on the Shore, Zoning/Town Engineering has one of the best Firms around—-I have some experience, where I found them to be fair—-compaired to Shore Towns like Bayville—4 Months for a permit—-
      Red Bank will just tell you are shut down untill they get back to you (never) Toms River tells you that their “super Mayor” is talking to the the Feds, and you need to wait for the outcome—–no! Our guys are doing good, the higher ups are stuck in SCI-FI land

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    3. Rockemsockem

      Yeah as long as cash lining pockets:) I’m not at all impressed as there had been no progress prior to Sandy. Does anyone know when Army Corp making presentation?

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    4. A Huber Construction

      The “cash lining pockets” even came to a halt in the state of NY.
      Come on now—-even considering this is just Blog——I would not toss mudd at somebody just like that.—-Please!

      The Army Corp went out there because they where paid to go! Dont expext too much from their report

      THX

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    5. rockemsockem

      Huh? I don’t know what NY has to do with Highlands politics? Maybe you missed the post by Larry who is actually on the planning board and may have a better pulse on what is really going on.
      “We also have a second problem here in town the zoning officer who has the option of deciding who goes before the board ignored the prior use variance and choose to sent it to the board this not surprising since he is employed by the towns engineer who make money every time someone goes before the board. He also sits at all council meeting and as the town engineer even though he is not licensed as a engineer !! The other party that opinions is the zoning board attorney he also get to cash out. The town could have help but they put up all the stops. Meanwhile Bay Ave looks like the death valley of business districts !!!”
      Sounds shady to me. I trust Army Corp over one of the “Best Firms” that have done nothing to alleviate flooding in this town for years!!!

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  10. Njview

    That place had the nicest people in all the service stations in the area- and free air! It would be a huge asset to town, it can be an attractive part of a ‘main street’ scape, too.

    This is simple- it must go for a variance to get a waiver from the zoning (unlike grandfathered places like Auto Imports). It is clear everyone wants him, so it should be easily, simple and quickly approved-
    But while approving, just make sure signage, lighting designs, exterior colors? and things like dumpsters are as attractively handled/placed as possible. That should not take too much- and luckily, that site already looks better than half the complying business downtown – (at least he won’t use a derelict van as a parking lot sign/storage unit….)

    That’s all it should take to make this happen, hopefully this business will be given a warm welcome.

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    1. larry

      Zoning board do not grant waivers . They grant variances . In this case a use variance would be needed (however it already exists) to obtain a use variance you must have 5 five yes votes and prove a hardship . the cost of which could be as high as 5,000. and may not pass . You see they are draining operating dollars from him .Most of these dollars go to lawyers and engineers. It sends a very bad message to all who wish to consider doing business or expanding the one that they have. Sadly it happened many times before prospective business owner just leave

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  11. John Devaney

    i have my cars repaired at Johnneys and send my kids there. I know him since he was a kid,always does a good job and is fair with his price. I might be wrong but before john was out of school i seem to remember having a car fixed by Layton ( not sure of the spelling)and it was in the same spot where Hennessey wants to open.This town needs more business and jobs for people Duncan never seems to never have a nice thing to say about anything. I feel sorry for people like him.

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  12. highlandsblog Post author

    Answers from the “other” on the poll:

    You will be lucky to have him, wonderful people.

    Yesterday, 10:21PM

    They should be lucky not to many businesses in town not to mention people

    Yesterday, 8:02PM

    I’ve known Ricky for over twenty five yrs and is a great person and responsible

    Yesterday, 7:57PM

    Come back to atlantic!!!

    Yesterday, 7:06PM

    We should take what we can

    Yesterday, 4:33PM

    Bay Ave not zoned for auto repair services, he has no mercantile

    Yesterday, 4:15PM

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    1. Raggy Walling

      So hard to find an honest and decent auto repair shop. Ricky and his crew are just awesome. Rick looks out for the little people and he would be an asset to the town of Highlands

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    2. Carolyn

      Wow HB, 251 yes votes – 96%, think that’s your most voted on poll ever! 

      O ne would think the peeps on the zoning board might have second thoughts about blocking this?   We need to find the variance that goes with the property and bring it up at the next council meeting. OR better, scan it and send to the Zoning Board and copy the C ouncil + lawyer + engineer.  THEN bring it up at Council meeting after no one answers the email.

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    3. highlandsblog Post author

      Who knew someone trying to start a business would get so much traffic.. 😉 Over 450 refers from FB.

      Regarding the variance, the zoning peeps know. Their lawyer said that there is precedent for “abandonment of use” for the property.

      So what *we* can do is a) put pressure on the HBP that “we” want him in town https://www.facebook.com/pages/Highlands-Business-Partnership-Highlands-NJ/165486543524770 b) put pressure on the Council to recognize the existing variance c) show support at the next zoning meeting.

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  13. Cindy

    Thank you to all who are supporting Rick. He has always had a class act business. His business in Sea Bright was devistated by Sandy as well as his business in Atlantic. So he was hit with a double whammy! He did not own the building in Sea Bright and the landlord did not have the means to repair the building. Rick had no choice but to find another location. My father owns the building where Rick would like to operate out of (Swanton). The building is beautifully maintained, which is how both my father and Rick operated their business. They are both very clean and neat when it comes to their business. I really believe that the town of Highlands would benefit by having Rick Hennessey’s business in town. He will bring more people into town who will most definitely eat at the wonderful restaurants in Highlands. Rick is just trying to make a living, pay bills, and put food on the table for his family. Won’t you please support him?

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  14. NoLongerNew

    I still can’t understand why this town makes it so damn difficult to do business here. They cry that they need ratables but would rather see a space sit vacant than allow a thriving business that brings people to our town. Now you know why it’s so difficult to get businesses here. The flooding is a convenient excuse. What’s going to happen once that’s fixed? Then what will the reason be for all the vacancies on Bay Ave?

    As others have said, having another auto repair shop will bring in people A) who might not come to our town B) who will spend their down time at other businesses in town and C) might bring other people back to town with them.

    I get that there are ordinances on the books and the rules need to be followed, but geeze. You let SO MANY OTHERS slide on much worse violations. Why issue a summons when a warning might be sufficient? Why make him jump through all these hoops multiple times?

    I’m quite happy to support Rick in his fight. Is there a GoFundMe I can contribute to?

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    1. barbara iannucci

      gotta be careful with a GoFundMe movement …. it is then HBP might openly get involved – just to find a way to own it under their proprietary umbrella … and the donations will never get to Ricky.

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  15. rockemsockem

    The same people seem to benefit over and over while small business and residents struggle and worry how they will make it. It’s madness!

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  16. PatGuba

    one would think that the powers that be would be bending over backwards to welcome a business with a proven track record into town. i’ve got to figure that with many businesses still closed and residential homeowners literally walking away, the tax base has decreased substantially….time to think out of the box to get back on track. big props to johnny u for being a stand up guy and best of luck to rick.

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    1. dougcard4highlands

      As we move from post Sandy, thing need to change. Rick is is a strong associate to highlands . The Leander ship of this town feels they know what is best and do what every they feel with total disregard for the people that voted them into office. It starts with the voters, so get out and vote for change, I’m not going away win or loss. I’m going to demand change and reform.

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  17. NJ01

    Maybe he can offer ‘cab service’ as an additional service in his proposal. We desperately need a local cab service. Shore taxi sucks.

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    1. larry

      Want has the lawyer advised about cases that were won buy holders of use variances . Also did these cases go to the appellant court of the NJ supreme court ..Fact is the lawyer is fishing for a reason he is using the town funds and rick funds to do so think about it

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  18. Ron Dowling

    Well, I think we shoule have a Dollar Tree in our town up on the highway. Why don’t the HBP call the company to ask them to put a store here? Wow, We could sure use something like it.

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