and DAVID BLAIR
DAVID S. NEWTON
Note: The following is a copy of a letter sent to Township Committee.
To the Editor:
Arriving last summer as new residents, we were excited by Princeton's lovely houses, fine trees and vibrant community. However, from the first month of living here, we were shocked at the piles of yard waste that were left all over the Township. We arrived in July and by September were in disbelief that the same piles remained on our neighborhood streets that had been there when we first arrived. Now brown, smelly, and harboring insects, they greeted all visitors as unsightly and hazardous sentinels of an inefficient cleanup plan.
There are many reasons to either change the cleanup ordinance or rigorously enforce the one currently on the books.
1. Health and Safety. As the enormous piles again relining our streets fester throughout the summer, they create walking, driving, and parking hazards; become breeding grounds for insects; and are clogging our storm sewers after every rain.
2. Real Estate Values. It is vital that every community have a strong real estate market to support the tax base. Good schools and attractive housing are part of that picture, but town maintenance that realtors can proudly point to as a hallmark of our community is also part of that mix. Streets clogged with debris all year do not enhance home values. A comprehensive cleanup plan that includes some reasonable resident cooperation is essential to achieving a clean community.
3. Pavement and Curbing. Clean streets have a regular service by a street sweeper. We have never seen this service in our neighborhood. Every road has some level of debris on the roadway. Rotting piles of debris help to break down eroding street surfaces already in poor condition.
The most effective clean streets ordinance requires residents to compost debris on their property, remove all debris to a town facility, or have a landscaper remove it. Fall and spring leaf collection is for a stated and enforced period and is not once a month but twice a month to keep the streets from having hazardous piles of leaves building up and clogging the sewers. It is apparent that few Princeton residents are familiar with the current regulations, or they are knowingly non-compliant.
We have called the Public Works Department and have been informed citations would be handed out, but have only seen the piles get larger. Last Saturday, we observed a woman weeding a garden bed and throwing the weeds in the road. Is this what we want?
We want this community to look as wonderful as it is.
and DAVID BLAIR
To the Editor:
Many of your readers may have noticed a series of low rise structures, known as "follies," that are being erected in the horseshoe shaped area between the east and west wings of the Hulfish Street Garage on land fronting on Paul Robeson Place. We are calling this the Princeton Writers' Block. It is the brainchild of Peter Soderman, the gardener/farmer/artiste who among other things created the Mediterra Herban Garden on Paul Robeson Place, and Kevin Wilkes, a partner in Princeton Design Guild.
A 3-month, urban, literary, and scholars garden, Writers' Block had its grand opening last week. It will be cultivated by volunteer artists and will blossom with a program of readings and cultural events lasting through October 31. The follies and pavilions will be designed and built by teams of Princeton area architects, landscape architects, builders, and writers. Each folly will capture the unique flair of its team. The center of the site will be specifically designed for informal public gatherings and festivities.
For the sake of clarification, a "folly" is a permanent or temporary building designed to bring amusement to its visitors. Some of the great estates of England have follies on their grounds, often built to mimic Greek temples. In our case the follies will hopefully encourage shoppers to visit the many fine shops on Palmer Square and in downtown Princeton.
I am writing because we are looking for support to help finance the cost of this project. Whereas the final goal is to auction off the follies, with excess proceeds above the costs going to benefit a non-profit organization selected by each folly team, we need to find individuals and companies willing to help underwrite a portion of these costs. Support for this important social experiment will enhance both our environment and community.
Tax exempt donations should be made payable to The Kaduson Strauss Community Foundation, 3812-B Quakerbridge Road, Suite 204, Mercerville 08619. (Checks should reference Writers' Block 2004.)
Those with questions may call me at (609) 921-2333 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your consideration.
DAVID S. NEWTON
To the Editor:
I was delighted to be advised by the Borough that our street will be repaved soon. We pay a lot of property taxes and are entitled to some benefits, after all.
The repair of our street is going to cost more than $500,000, extras included. If I am right in my calculations, saving that amount in the Borough's budget could reduce the tax by about five cents per $100 assessed property value.
One could be of the opinion that after so many years of just patching the potholes, one could live with patching our street for another year.
But of course our street would have to be repaved sometime. If next year or later, another project of similar size would have to be postponed in order to retain the tax-lowering benefit. Judging from our own street, this would require a spirit of great frugality. Isn't the Borough known for that?
What should prevail: generous taxation at the level indicated by our latest Borough budget, or frugality?
Here is a question for the citizens of Princeton. What do you want me to recommend to Borough Council continuation with the plan to repair my street, or postponement of this project for at least a year, with a lowering of the tax rate by five cents per $100 assessed value?
I suggest that we have a referendum on this issue. I am certain that you will all vote for having my street repaired. Thank you.
For those who would rather save on taxes, why don't you address your opinion to Borough Council, and your suggestions for other road repair postponements to keep the taxation even lower. Think of all you could do with those tax savings!
Note: The following is a copy of a letter sent to Peter A. Kneski and Christine M. Lewandowski of the Princeton Township Zoning Department.
Dear Mr. Kneski and Ms. Lewandowski:
I wrote to you on June 6, 2004 to protest the lack of notice about the consideration of converting Mike's Tavern to a Jazz Club. In summary, your answer was "tough luck, we did it by the rules." I have now reviewed the resolution approving the use variance and am even more upset by the process used.
The document contains information that at times is incorrect, inconsistent, and inadequately supported.
There is an existing, non-conforming use on the site. Mike's Tavern was at this location when we moved to Princeton 24 years ago, and I suspect was grandfathered without review into the zoning scheme when it was implemented. This use represents only a small portion of the site. The last use for the rest of the ground floor of the building was an auto parts store, which was conforming. The rest of the property is residential. To allow the total site to be converted to this non-conforming use would be a major change.
The proposed parking provisions are inconsistent with the stated capacity. Paragraph four states there will be 18 employees, 160 patrons, and 4 musicians for a total of 182 people. Paragraph three states there will be 43 parking places with 14 additional spaces off-site. This means each car has to bring three people. If this proposal is allowed we will have cars parking on local streets.
In Paragraph five, the architect, Terry Smith, acknowledges the potential noise problem and then provides an interesting solution: "there was no opportunity for openings in the direction of the residential neighborhood." Since there are residences on three sides, does this mean there will only be doors and windows facing Community Park?
In Paragraph five, the architect states, "the new facility would have less bulk," and then in Paragraph six states, "there was still an area deficiency," with no definition of whether the problem was better or worse. Nobody on the Bard bothered to ask.
The proposal will improve the traffic situation. I pass this site frequently and have never seen more than ten cars parked there, most of which leave individually. In reaching her conclusion was the traffic consultant comparing this situation with 50-60 cars leaving at the same time? In addition, the exit from Birch Lane onto Route 206 is extremely difficult because of the sharp bend in the road to the north. Will a large two-story building located closer to the main road not make this worse?
The proposed use was better than many uses permitted in the S-2 zone. This is a matter of opinion, but highlighting the least attractive permitted use does not make it a fact. This site is too small for use for a trucking facility but the adjacent conforming use, Tomasi Texaco, is a welcome business that contributes real service to our community with little negative impact.
There are a number of other issues in this document but the most offensive is the fact that the comments by those few neighbors who did get notified are trivialized and ignored. The board in rendering its decision simply parrots the unsupported assertions of the applicant. I thought this board existed to protect the interests of residents and ensure compliance with our zoning laws. Apparently they are there to simply rubber stamp proposals from influential developers.
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