Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 27
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

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Borough Approves Mixed-Use Zone

Dilshanie Perera

Borough Council unanimously approved the ordinance allowing for the creation of a mixed-use (MX) zone on the 32 acres of land comprising the Merwick, Stanworth, YMCA, and YWCA properties last Tuesday. The change in zoning from R1 and R4 to MX permits the building onsite of a combination of single-family and two-family attached dwellings, as well as a parking garage, and non-residential non-profit organizations.

Twenty percent of all of the new residential construction built within the zone must be comprised of affordable units.

The rezoning controls the density of the space, allowing for a maximum of 14 dwelling units per acre of property. It also grants a density bonus to the developer, which permits one market-rate unit of housing for every age-restricted unit built for senior citizens. Under the ordinance, up to 30 units of age-restricted housing may be built.

Half of the age-restricted units would be “Princeton preference,” meaning that they can be reserved for current residents of the Borough or Township and their parents and children, persons who were residents up to five years ago, active emergency services volunteers, and current employees of the Borough, Township, and shared municipal agencies, like the School Board.

The non-residential occupants of the site are allotted 125,000 square feet of space, excluding the 75,000 for the Merwick structures. The maximum height of the non-residential buildings is three stories. Additionally, a 40,000 square foot open space is reserved for active recreation. This is designed to preserve the current fields adjacent to the YMCA.

Members of the public expressed concern that increased density would cause traffic congestion in the area surrounding the site. Hendricks Davis, a resident of John Street, and David Schrayer, resident of Spruce Street and Chair of the Affordable Housing Committee, both noted that the ordinance would benefit by requiring that more dwelling units be affordable.

Council member Roger Martindell said that “when this ordinance came to us, it was not as good as it is now,” but lamented that the age-restricted housing is provided for only in terms of a bonus to the developer. The University being the presumptive developer of the Merwick site, Mr. Martindell stated, “I’m not sure if the University is interested in age-restrictive housing.” He based his support for the ordinance on the assumption that the University “may concede to the community.”

Hoping that “the YMCA, YWCA, University, and Hospital will work together,” Council member Kevin Wilkes noted that it was with the “intention of collaboration” between the property owners that Borough Council had crafted the ordinance.

Council Chair Margaret Karcher praised Planning Director of the Regional Planning Board Lee Solow’s work in shaping the ordinance. “It is an ordinance that works for the community, and for this particular property,” she noted.

The ordinance passed unanimously, with Mayor Mildred Trotman and Council member David Goldfarb abstaining from the discussion and vote, citing personal reasons.

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