Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 9
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

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Iris Interiors

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Weather Forecast

Environmental Commission Considers Impact of New Development Projects

Dilshanie Perera

The Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC) reviewed developer J. Robert Hillier’s proposed development on Princeton Ridge, Princeton University’s proposed Arts and Transit Neighborhood plans, and storm water and stream buffer ordinances at their meeting last week.

Mr. Hillier (who is also a Town Topics shareholder) explained that his proposal would impact 18 percent of the total site area of 21 acres, and would also involve rebuilding the retention basin for Princeton Community Village in addition to paying them a $50,000 fee for the ability to use the basin for emergency storm water overflow. Plans to donate 8.5 acres of the site to a conservation organization are also in the works.

The project, which is known as Copperwood, involves 143 units of housing for rent to residents aged 55 and over. While most of the units will be market-rate, 21 have been set aside as moderate-rate, and 12 as affordable housing.

The Development Subcommittee of the PEC inquired about plan details and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for the proposal.

Elaborating upon the site design, Mr. Hillier said that an unpaved, structured green driveway would be put in place for emergency vehicles, and that walking paths through the woods on the property would be installed.

The buildings would feature green design elements, including all sedum roofs, a cistern collecting rainwater that would be recycled for use in flushing toilets and irrigating the site.

A small water treatment plant on the site is also being considered for potable water and cost efficiency, Mr. Hillier said.

Approximately 60 people are already on the waiting list for the housing, with most aged 70 years and older, according to Mr. Hillier. Leases are available for one, three, and five years. He reported that 18 people had signed up for the five-year lease option.

PEC Chair Matthew Wasserman requested a checklist of LEED-approved elements that would be incorporated into the building design, while PEC member Heidi Fichtenbaum suggested looking into a recyclable or green disposal of construction waste. Mr. Hillier agreed to the checklist request, adding that his firm is “exploring geothermal” heating and garbage disposals that could capture food waste and use it for on site composting.

Joan McGee of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association thanked Mr. Hillier for the plan, calling it “a model for the region.”

Regarding Princeton University’s Arts and Transit Neighborhood Plan, PEC members expressed differing opinions and sought further information from University Director of Community and Regional Affairs Kristin Appelget, who explained that the proposed new terminus of the Dinky and the multimodal transportation hub is the “one way” representatives from New Jersey Transit “see to reinforce current Dinky service and potentially increase ridership.”

“We’re all in favor of mass transit from an environmental perspective,” Mr. Wasserman acknowledged, adding that PEC was “not prepared to make a resolution on the [location of the] Dinky terminus” during the meeting.

After discussion and input from residents, an amendment to the Township storm water ordinance was permanently tabled.

Ms. McGee explained that in a watershed area, impervious coverage over 10 percent negatively impacts water quality, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Human actions leave their mark on area waterways. Ms. McGee pointed out an increased incidence of phosphorous in Lake Carnegie, which is a direct result of homeowners using lawn fertilizers that contain the chemical.

Residents in attendance made cases for why the proposed amendment would inhibit future use of their properties, and impair the possibility for even modest additions.

Ms. McGee added that at the Watershed Association, “We really think the nonresidential issue is the major issue … just building a larger detention basin is not helping.”

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