Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 45
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
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

Township Hall to Hear Senior Housing Proposal Amid Mounting Concerns

Matthew Hersh

A proposal to change the age standard for housing on a 20-acre Bunn Drive property in Princeton Township could result in the municipality implementing a major change in senior housing policy.

A prospective developer and the landowners of that property, an expanse along the Princeton Ridge south of Hilltop Park and west of Princeton Community Village, are seeking a change in an overlay zone, established in 2001, that would reduce the age requirement to 55 from the currently mandated 62. The proposal, which first came before Township Committee in August, is again open for discussion this Monday, November 12, at 7 p.m., at Township Hall. A change in zoning would represent a dramatic shift in Township policy, acknowledging changes in the housing market, as well as a response to increasing calls from housing advocates on the need for market rate senior housing.

The property is owned by Laura and William Lowe, a Short Hills couple managing the site through Chatham Capital Investors, LLC. In 2005, the Lowes had worked with developer K. Hovnanian in submitting plans and ultimately receiving municipal approval to build a 140-unit senior housing community on that site. Hovnanian backed out of the project in 2006, citing changes in the market, which left the Lowes with an approval, but no developer willing to execute the project.

Those approvals, which were memorialized by the Regional Planning Board of Princeton in December 2005, are expected to be renewed by the board at its November 8 regular meeting.

In August of this year, the Lowes attended a Township Committee meeting where architect J. Robert Hillier outlined a plan to develop 149 units on about seven acres of the site. Mr. Hillier, a shareholder of Town Topics Inc., urged Township Hall to reconsider the age 62 requirement there, thus opening the market to a younger, 55-year set.

Mr. Hillier is the contract purchaser of the land, in addition to a three-acre tract just south of the main entrance to Princeton Community Village, where affordable housing could be built. The developer’s plan could require between 12 and 20 affordable housing units, as mandated through the state’s Council on Affordable Housing. Mr. Hillier’s purchase of the land from the Lowes is contingent on the Township changing the zoning there.

In August, Mr. Hillier said the project would fall in the $60 million to $70 million range, with individual units, all two-bedroom, falling in the $400,000 range.

Monday’s discussion is likely to rekindle ongoing resistance from environmentalists concerned that the land, which is heavy in bedrock, is environmentally sensitive and that further development would increase flooding in lower areas of the Township, particularly in the Harry’s Brook region. In October, the Princeton Environmental Commission agreed to draft a letter opposing any new development, particularly over concerns about potential stormwater runoff. New development, said Environmental Commission member and former Township Committeewoman Casey Lambert, would cause “disruptive flooding to downstream sections of the Township.”

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