Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 40
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
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Nearing Deadline, Planning Board Readies Master Plan Reexamination

Matthew Hersh

The Regional Planning Board of Princeton last Thursday came ever closer to completing its six-month, state-mandated review of the Princeton Community Master Plan, and while the review of the philosophical document is nearly complete, some planners acknowledged that there will need to be continued review, even after a revised document is endorsed.

The changes to the Master Plan are expected to be published October 5, and, as expected, largely represent an extension to the 2001 plan, with updates to sections regarding the environment, historic preservation, community facilities, energy conservation, and circulation.

At the outset of the board’s discussions, however, changes to the Princeton University campus dominated the discussion, particularly the reversal of a once-concrete plan to develop vacant University-owned land in West Windsor, and, more recently, the proposed redevelopment of the Alexander Street-University Place neighborhood for a planned arts neighborhood. The latter proposal, while still conceptual, outlines a plan for additional infrastructure designed to accommodate, in part, the University’s Center for the Creative and Performing Arts and envisions relocating New Jersey Transit’s Dinky station 500 feet to the south, as well as reconfiguring the University Place-Alexander Street intersection.

Marvin Reed, who chairs the Planning Board’s Master Plan Subcommittee, urged planners last Thursday to continue “working hard on whether the arts village is going to work out,” as well as how the Princetons will approach future development by other educational, non-profit, and tax-exempt groups.

Mr. Reed also addressed sustainability issues, green buildings, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), open space acquisition, and maintenance of those acquisitions, including groundwater recharge, and tree canopy preservation. In his report, Lee Solow, Princeton’s planning director, identified sustainable policy and energy efficiency as a “new focus for the community.”

There are still unknown factors, Mr. Reed said, including how the state intends to resolve the court-rejected affordable housing growth share program pieced together by the state’s Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). “The state Supreme Court felt that COAH hadn’t gone far enough, and that growth share could be used, but that other means of growth share should be entertained,” Mr. Reed said, adding that once new COAH mandates are published, that a developer could satisfy affordable housing requirements through building densities, allowing a developer to build denser housing in favor of more onsite affordable units.

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