Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 34
 
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
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“Homes for Everyone” Bus Tour Reveals Many Approaches to Affordable Housing

LINDA SIPPRELLE
Nassau Street

Creation of Princeton Ridge Preserve Earns Praise for Township Committee

DANIEL A. HARRIS
Dodds Lane
For Save Princeton Ridge


“Homes for Everyone” Bus Tour Reveals Many Approaches to Affordable Housing

To the Editor:

As a member of the Princeton Borough Affordable Housing Board, I was invited to a “Homes for Everyone” bus tour on May 28. The tour focused on affordable housing across Mercer Country. Other attendees included elected officials and planning and zoning board members. Sponsors of the tour were the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, HomeFront, Princeton Community Housing, Project Freedom, and the Greater Mercer Chamber of Commerce.

By way of introduction, Herb Levine of the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness said that municipalities could purchase foreclosed dwellings and turn them over to nonprofit groups, which could use them to house homeless families. Matthew Lawson, from the Mercer County Planning Division, explained the value of transit villages in developing affordable housing. He said that transit villages are developments planned around mass transit stops, such as train stations or bus routes.

Sites visited included Elm Court and the Harriet Bryan House in Princeton, home to low-income senior citizens, according to Sandra Persichetti, executive director of Princeton Community Housing. We also saw the Project Freedom development in Robbinsville Township that was built for people with special needs. We drove through Pennrose Properties’ McCorristin Square, a senior housing development in Hamilton Township. We also saw houses developed by Martin House/Better Community Housing of Trenton. Pearline Walters, chief administrator of this project, said the houses were sold for $21,000 to families that had 11 years to pay off their no-interest loans.

Michele Siekerka, executive director of the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce, delivered an important message when she said that businesses can’t prosper unless their employees have affordable places to live.

In summary, the tour underlined the message that there are a variety of ways to approach the issue of affordable housing, and that affordable housing can contribute to the quality of life and viability of a community.

LINDA SIPPRELLE
Nassau Street

Creation of Princeton Ridge Preserve Earns Praise for Township Committee

To the Editor:

The Princeton community will be happy to learn that Princeton Township Committee has taken yet another major step forward towards environmental sustainability and responsible planning. In a resolution adopted on August 17, the Committee supported the creation of a new Princeton Ridge Preserve that will permanently protect environmentally sensitive terrain and habitat.

While the resolution does not refer to specific tracts to be preserved to the maximum extent possible, it presumably imagines the whole stretch along Bunn Drive that remains undeveloped, including the Ricciardi tracts (14 acres), the Lowe tract (21+ acres), the acreage being purchased by D&R Greenway from All Saints’ Church (about 40 acres), and the Thompson tract (18+ acres) at the easterly end of Bunn Drive. These 80 acres will be contiguous with Herrontown Woods (84 acres), a wonderful swath of natural habitat whose environmental, economic, and social value the resolution clearly acknowledges.

In thus asserting the natural value of the Princeton Ridge, the resolution not only supports acquisition and preservation of these lands as a special “green belt” within Princeton but also emphasizes the vision that this area will provide “unique educational and recreational opportunities for the Princeton community.” That phrasing, with its crucial adjective “unique,” deliberately sets standards for acceptable land uses. In light of the resolution, Township Committee will look favorably on applications that foster its goals; in turn, the Committee will not find acceptable any applications that do not further the public good as stated.

The ancillary benefit of the Township resolution is that its terms will be honored by the Princeton Regional Planning Board, which should now implement the Township’s official and specific assertion of benefits to the public and thus regard without favor any applications for land use on any of these properties which involve clear-cutting of trees or the endangerment of wetlands, not to mention other potential destructions of the special Ridge environment and ecosystem.

The resolution represents a significant shift in Township attitudes towards the environment. Princeton residents should applaud Township Committee for the boldness of its vision.

DANIEL A. HARRIS
Dodds Lane
For Save Princeton Ridge

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