Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 17
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
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Arts, Transit Negotiations Nearing Close, Results Made Public in Next Two Weeks

Dilshanie Perera

Negotiations between Princeton Borough, Princeton Township, and Princeton University concerning the proposed Arts and Transit Neighborhood are coming to a close, with decisions and options to be discussed in public within the next two weeks.

Changing the zoning in the area under question at the intersection of Alexander Road and University Place is being considered by the Borough and Township, since each municipality falls within the proposed Arts Education and Transit (AET) zone. Public discussions and presentations have occurred regarding the new zoning, and the Borough’s ordinance is expected to be introduced on either May 3 or May 10 at the regularly scheduled Council meeting, according to Administrator Robert Bruschi.

Separate, closed-door negotiations between representatives of each municipality and the University have concerned the transit element of the University’s plan, which proposes to move the Dinky terminus 460 feet further south from its current location. The findings and results of the negotiations will likely be made public shortly as well.

In a joint municipal meeting last week, Mr. Bruschi explained that the weekly meetings of a taskforce comprised of Council members Roger Martindell and Kevin Wilkes, and Township Mayor Chad Goerner and Committee member Bernie Miller, as well as representatives from Princeton University, were conducted with the intent of “identifying common goals” and ensuring “long term train service” between the town and Princeton Junction.

Elected officials and staff present at the meeting assured the public that both the zoning ordinance and the results of the task force’s negotiations would be available to the public well in advance of a public discussion about either topic, and prior to any decisions being made.

The zoning ordinance would be sent to the Planning Board upon introduction, and the regional body would have 35 days to make recommendations prior to further formal action.

Planning Board member Yina Moore said she had a “bit of discomfort” that land use issues were being discussed behind closed doors, thereby circumventing planning board input at the onset.

Resident Kip Cherry encouraged elected officials to look at the larger picture for University expansion in the area when considering their decision, pointing out that graduate student housing at the Hibben-Magie apartments may be increased, and that traffic circulation in the broader region should be considered.

Mr. Bruschi noted that staff was putting together an impact analysis, detailing potential benefits, costs, and opportunities.

Princeton University Vice President and Secretary Robert Durkee spoke briefly to “correct the record,” noting that “the University has never moved the Dinky since 1984” and that it was New Jersey Transit who made the decision then. He pointed out that the recent letter from NJ Transit officials to the University indicates that the University would have the right to move the Dinky.

Mr. Durkee also observed that the traffic impact study of the Alexander Road corridor and surrounds was conducted by an independent consultant engaged by the Regional Planning Board, the funding for whom was provided by the University.

In an electronic communication, Mr. Bruschi noted that staff met on Tuesday with University professionals regarding the AET zoning, and that the ordinance would be ready for presentation later this week. As far as the transit negotiations, he said he expects the release of a public document shortly that “will outline what the two towns have been able to work out” with Princeton University.

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