Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 47
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
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Environmental Commission to Launch Energy Audit Project, Leaf Management

Dilshanie Perera

A Leaf Management Committee that will address leaf collection and storm water management in the Borough and the Township was created during last week’s Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC) meeting. The group also plans to launch a Home Energy Audit Project in collaboration with Sustainable Princeton.

Concerns about flooding and leaf disposal efficiency spurred the creation of the committee, which will analyze the most effective methods by which to collect leaves.

Environmental Commission members on the Leaf Management Committee are: Steve Hiltner, Pam Machold, Charles Rojer, Barbara Trelstad, and Matthew Wasserman.

The committee’s creation follows the unanimous resolution PEC passed last month urging both municipalities to change their ordinances to require that leaves be placed in bags or a standardized container for pick up. The group also acknowledged that the cheapest and most energy efficient process would involve residents composting or mulching their leaves in their own yards.

Leaf piles placed in the street were characterized as potential safety hazards, since cars must move closer to the median when driving to avoid them. Furthermore, stray leaves can clog storm drains, thus increasing the likelihood of flooding, while retaining leaves on one’s property can boost stormwater absorption and replenish nutrients in the soil, according to the resolution.

Also approved unanimously, the Home Energy Audit Project will allow six homes of different sizes, ages, and styles; as well as two local businesses to monitor their energy usage beginning next month, with audits to be completed at each site by February 28, 2010.

PEC Chair Wendy Kaczerski mentioned that the commission has $2,200 left in its 2009 budget. The assessments will include both energy and radon audits, and are expected to cost $1,325, with the remaining budget monies to go toward the purchase of new energy meters.

While the PEC decided not to take a formal position on the issue vis-à-vis flooding, they did discuss the Westminster Choir College proposal to build a new parking lot on its property.

Commission member Peter Madison, who also chairs the Regional Planning Board, said that the current Westminster site for the proposed parking lot has a problem with water runoff flooding abutting properties on Linden Lane. The applicant plans to create an underground retention basin and a berm with plantings to redirect the water.

Another presentation by Westminster to address neighborhood concerns is scheduled for the Planning Board meeting on December 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Township Hall.

“By virtue of installing inlets, we’re going to solve the problem that exists,” remarked attorney Mark Solomon of Pepper Hamilton, who added that Westminster is not seeking variances, and that the Borough Engineer has approved the plans.

“We need the parking … so the question is, how do you best do it?” Mr. Solomon said.

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