Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 8
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
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Township “Stays the Course” in Face Of Beleaguered COAH Developments

Ellen Gilbert

Noting recent media attention to developments at COAH (New Jersey’s Council on Affordable Housing), attorney Ed Schmierer gave a status report on the agency at the Monday evening Township Committee meeting.

“COAH has been criticized over the years for being too bureaucratic,” observed Mr. Schmierer. He explained that recently introduced legislation known as S-1 proposes to “abolish COAH and come up with a more realistic, affordable approach.” Citing COAH’s 120-page manual of rules and regulations, the Township Attorney noted that the idea behind the proposed legislation “is a good one,” though the details have “not been worked out just yet. A lot of work is going on now to fill in the blanks.” Mr. Schmierer said that he expected the details of the legislation to be made available on or about March 8.

In the meantime, Mr. Schmierer reported, Governor Christie signed an Executive Order immediately suspending COAH operations and appointing a panel to study the issue of affordable housing and make recommendations within 90 days. A court subsequently overturned Mr. Christie’s order, so COAH is still in operation, with a meeting scheduled for March 16.

Ultimately, Mr. Schmierer said, these developments have “little or no impact on the Township’s affordable housing program.” He cited the Township’s 1984 ordinance, “238 wonderful apartments” at Princeton Village; senior housing at Elm Court; and “a wonderful part of the Griggs Farm community” as evidence of the Township’s affordable housing achievements. “Irrespective of what goes on at the state level, we’ll stay the course,” he concluded.

Township Committee also approved a sewer easement resolution, providing for the connection of Mountain Lakes House to the public sewer so it would no longer be dependent on septic systems. Township Engineer Bob Kaiser said that the work would be done by connecting a new sewer line from the house to the existing Tusculum line. The arrangement was contingent on approval from the Moore family, which owns Tusculum. It was agreed that the Township would pay its “fair share,” or one-quarter of the cost of any future maintenance. Mr. Kiser described the arrangement as “a tremendous benefit to the Township, since we do not have to put anything new in place.” The work should begin, he said, some time in March.

On a related note, Mr. Kiser announced that there will be a neighborhood meeting on Monday, March 1, at 7 p.m. at Township Hall to inform residents living near Mountain Lakes about the current dredging and rebuilding project, and to answer any questions.

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