Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 43
 
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
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Township Committee Should Withdraw Senior Housing Plan on Princeton Ridge

DANIEL A. HARRIS
Dodds Lane

Joint Sustainability Committee Holding Public Meeting Tonight at High School

MILDRED TROTMAN
Mayor, Princeton Borough
PHYLLIS MARCHAND
Mayor, Princeton Township

Halloween Trick-or-Treaters Will Help Support UNICEF’s Worldwide Mission

EVE NIEDERGANG
Forester Drive


Township Committee Should Withdraw Senior Housing Plan on Princeton Ridge

To the Editor:

The Princeton Ridge overlay zone for senior housing (age 62+) should be rescinded. The Ridge has been declared “environmentally sensitive” in studies going back to 1959. The term “environmentally sensitive” refers not only to habitat and species protection but to the prevalent diabase bedrock. The Soil Survey of Mercer County (1972) demonstrated that shallow soil depth to bedrock and high water tables on the Ridge pose severe environmental constraints for building, including heavy flooding downstream. Any “footprint” of impervious material (foundations, roads, parking lots) will intensify the propulsion of stormwater runoff elsewhere. The consequences for the flooding of human habitations around Harry’s Brook and other densely populated neighborhoods are extensive.

The EPA, state, and local governmental units have repeatedly indicated that the Ridge must be protected and preserved. Public agencies and organizations, including the Stonybrook-Millstone Watershed Association, have cautioned: be smart enough not to build in harm’s way.

In 2001, over the strenuous and unanimous objections of the Site Plan Review Advisory Board and the Princeton Environmental Commission, the Township Committee imposed a “senior overlay” on the Ridge to permit medium-density age-restricted housing for seniors 62+, and approved, in 2005, Hovnanian’s senior housing project. Astonishingly, Committee also approved a high-density senior overlay zone. Committee thus reversed the explicitly stated protections for the Ridge in the 1996 Master Plan, which rightly designated the Ridge as a “Special Environmental Area.”

To preserve and protect the Ridge, The Princeton Environmental Commission, among other groups, has supported senior housing at the Princeton Shopping Center, the Hospital site, or Merwick. The 2007 Princeton Master Plan Re-examination Report — potentially more friendly to Ridge protection — also contemplates these sites but without envisaging removing overlay senior housing zoning on the Ridge.

According to Robert Hillier, who has proposed a “conceptual plan” for developing 55+ age-restricted housing on the former Hovnanian site, the need for 62+ housing no longer exists. He has thus requested Princeton Township Committee to lower the age in the overlay zoning ordinance to make his project economically attractive. (Hovnanian withdrew from building on the Ridge because, like Mr. Hillier, the company thought construction would not be profitable unless the age-limit were dropped to 55+, and possibly because developing costs in this resistant terrain would be higher than imagined.)

The Ridge is environmentally vulnerable. Two potential builders have indicated that slack demand for 62+ senior housing alone will not justify their projects. The need for senior housing has either vanished or can be otherwise accommodated. What is the point of retaining the 2001 age-restricted overlay zoning?

Planning for a sustainable town must weigh human and economic costs of construction to those who live off-site as well as on-site. Building on the Ridge entails a substantial danger to a significant segment of the Princeton community. Why court human and environmental damage? Township Committee should quit dallying with the Ridge. It should reject Mr. Hillier’s proposal, withdraw the 62+ overlay zoning ordinance, and scotch any further developing of the Ridge.

DANIEL A. HARRIS
Dodds Lane

Joint Sustainability Committee Holding Public Meeting Tonight at High School

To the Editor:

Joining a growing international movement, Princeton Borough and Township have resolved to try to become a sustainable community. Borough Council and Township Committee have appointed a Sustainability Committee which is charged with developing a plan to guide Princeton toward a sustainable future. In addition to setting goals for the future and identifying actions we can take to achieve them, we will be publicly tracking our progress through a set of Sustainable Princeton Indicators. We would like to invite the public to join us in helping to create this plan by attending the first public meeting on October 24 in the Princeton High School Cafeteria, from 7 to 9 p.m. The purpose of the meeting is to identify the goals and key issues that we should work on.

A sustainable community is one that can support a high quality of life over the long term. At the local level this means protecting water supplies, ensuring good land use planning, protecting agricultural areas and open space, dealing with traffic, and supporting a walkable and vibrant downtown. A sustainable community is also one that takes responsibility for its contribution to regional and global issues, such as global warming and suburban sprawl.

Municipal government has committed to taking local sustainability seriously. But local government can only go so far. For example, government buildings and schools, and public works, account for less than 5 percent of Princeton’s greenhouse gas emissions. The other 95 percent comes from the individual actions of residents and businesses.

Global warming is obviously a big issue, but not the only issue. We are asking you to help us set the goals for Princeton’s future and to work with us to implement solutions. It will not be easy. The consensus among world scientists is that to avoid “catastrophic global warming” we have to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. The good news is that we can start today. Everyone who attends the October 24 meeting will receive a free compact fluorescent light bulb that consumes 80 percent less energy and emits 80 percent less greenhouse gases.

For more information, please visit the sustainable Princeton website at: www.sustainableprinceton.org.

MILDRED TROTMAN
Mayor, Princeton Borough
PHYLLIS MARCHAND
Mayor, Princeton Township

Halloween Trick-or-Treaters Will Help Support UNICEF’s Worldwide Mission

To the Editor:

It’s that time of year again: time to collect your change and your dollar bills to contribute to the U.S. fund for UNICEF Trick-or-Treat collection that will occur on Halloween, on Wednesday, October 31.

The U.S. fund for UNICEF is the U.S. branch of a United Nations organization devoted to the welfare of children. For many years, UNICEF, whose motto is “kids helping kids,” has distributed Halloween collection boxes for American children to use in gathering money to help children throughout the world. Children carry the orange collection boxes with them when they go trick-or-treating and ask their neighbors to contribute money to UNICEF.

This year, the funds collected will go towards supporting UNICEF’s mission to provide children around the world with lifesaving medicine, better nutrition, clean water and sanitation, quality basic education, and emergency relief.

Did you know that 376 million kids around the world have to walk more than 15 minutes to get a drink of clean water? Or that 121 million kids don’t go to school? Or that one out of every six kids doesn’t get the food needed to be healthy? Or that one in every 4,000 children dies every day of preventable childhood diseases due to lack of clean water, sufficient food, or immunization against disease? UNICEF addresses these critical needs. A contribution of $.07 to UNICEF can supply an entire classroom with crayons, $1 can immunize a child against polio, $10 can feed three children healthfully for a month, and $150 can provide clean water for an entire village.

UNICEF is noted for its cost effectiveness and its integrity. Over 90 percent of the contributions to it go directly to help children. Charity Navigator, a nonprofit organization that rates charities, gives the U.S. Fund for UNICEF its highest rating — 4 stars. Contributors can be confident that their money is getting where it needs to go.

This year, kids at John Witherspoon Middle School will join the several elementary schools in Princeton that collect funds for UNICEF. If someone comes to your door with a UNICEF box, please give generously — not just your spare change, but your $1, $5, $10, $20 bills as well. Remember the difference that your contribution can make in the lives of children in need. You may also contribute by sending checks to UNICEF, JWMS PTO, JWMS, 217 Walnut Lane, Princeton 08540.

Happy Halloween!

EVE NIEDERGANG
Forester Drive

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