GEORGE H. BROWN JR.
To the Editor:
I have long wondered how Princeton Township could continue to collect leaves every autumn. My solution is simply to grind them up with my power lawn mower and let the debris remain as nutrient for the grass. The decaying leaf bits are then ready to serve as lawn fertilizer by spring, without the application of polluting chemicals.
H. BROWN JR.
To the Editor:
The hundreds of people who have supported my effort to build a jazz club/restaurant in Princeton have been asking why I have allowed those letters of concern to go unanswered. My silence has perhaps allowed certain misconceptions to flourish. I would like to specifically address five of the points that have been raised to date.
1) One claim is that Duffield Place, source of most of the letters, will be overrun nightly with parked cars. Not only is this demonstrably untrue, but I have offered explicit assurance that no car from my establishment will be permitted to park there.
2) A more understandable concern is that the noise emanating from the club will be disruptive. To address this, we have hired the leading acoustical architect in the country to ensure that everything inside remains inside and that outside noise remains comfortably below all established standards. Additionally, the Township has hired its own noise consultant to establish acceptable levels of noise and to review all matters in this regard.
3) With regard to traffic and parking on and around the site, we have gone to extraordinary lengths to try and keep as much of the parking and traffic flow on Route 206, and out of the surrounding neighborhood. Again, the Township has also hired its own traffic consultant to advise us all how best to protect the interests of the community.
4) Another concern is that people exiting Birch Avenue onto Route 206 will be unable to see past a two story building on the corner. First, the current grandfathered zoning at Mike's permits vans and trucks to park all the way out to the curb, often obstructing any view. But a new establishment, subject to updated zoning codes, must provide adequate sight lines in order to be approved. We have always planned to comply with such codes.
5) With respect to the legal appeal, I've been counseled to avoid the legal specifics. Suffice it to say, all people have been properly noticed and I believe that the filed complaints are legally and substantively invalid and will be proven as such in court.
Often overlooked is that the Township has an extensive set of zoning rules and codes and that the Township officials and members of the Zoning Board work very hard to ensure that they are properly satisfied. My team of planners and architects has developed a plan that is respectful of the site and its surrounding neighborhood, and which will also add an interesting new dimension to Princeton's cultural offerings. We are going to considerable lengths to ensure that our establishment becomes and remains a positive addition to the neighborhood.
To the Editor:
The election on November 2 will be one of the most important in the nation's history; every eligible voter should participate. To be eligible to vote in New Jersey one must be 1) a U.S. citizen 18 years of age or older (by election date), 2) a resident at the present address for at least 30 days, and 3) be registered at least 29 days before the election (in this case by October 4). Persons currently on parole, probation, or serving a sentence are ineligible but regain the right upon completion thereof. Individuals who have moved or changed their names since their last registration must reregister.
Registration to vote is simple. Forms may be obtained at the office of the county or municipal clerk as well as at many public libraries and motor vehicle offices. The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area will be registering voters at the following dates and locations: August 27 to 31 at the Princeton McCaffrey's from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.; September 11 at West Windsor Branch Library; Sept. 11 to 18 at Princeton Public Library; September 21 from 3 to 7 p.m. at South Brunswick Public Library.
Applications for an absentee ballot will also be available; they are due in the office of the County Clerk by October 26.
Registered voters will receive a sample ballot before the election that indicates their polling place. All voters must present an acceptable ID upon signing in at the poll.
That is all that is involved. Now, just do it.
To the Editor:
The Princeton Township Zoning Board recently granted a variance in view of replacing Mike's Tavern on Route 206 with a high-capacity "jazz club." The idea of situating such an enterprise at the intersection of two residential neighborhoods, on a road that is already overloaded, strikes me as so aberrant that I must wonder whether nearby homeowners were even consulted.
Indeed, the most astonishing aspect of this case is that most residents in proximity to the site were not notified of the zoning meeting in which the matter was discussed. (I learned of it after the fact, in the newspaper.) Informing one's neighbors about decisions that impact on the quality of life and the value of their principal investments seems like the courteous thing to do. Since courtesy no longer suffices, perhaps thought should be given to strengthening the laws that govern notice given prior to variance decisions.
To the Editor:
Princeton Borough is about to significantly change its zoning ordinances in a way that affects many properties in town, particularly those in the middle of the Borough. This proposed change has been billed as an "anti-McMansion" ordinance, but to imply that it will only, if at all, affect that type of development is misleading.
Many property owners in town will find that enlargements of their houses will be impossible under the new ordinance. One part of the proposal seeks to limit the volume of house that can exist on a lot. The argument for this type of volumetric constraint is that building density is, in and of itself, bad. However, declaring more and more of the town "non-conforming" causes me to wonder what Princeton would look like if it were all in conformance, which is presumably the goal of any legislated design guidelines.
Certainly there has been some recent development in town which many deem undesirable. However, I think that the use of floor area ratios and maximum house sizes to discourage more of that development is a blunt instrument, which could end up reducing property values and denying residents the ability to make improvements to their properties.
Instead, as a community we could develop a set of zoning bylaws that allow development under our terms, specifically, that which would mimic and augment the existing density and character of our town. For example, we might limit the percentage of street frontage taken up by garage doors. We could have zoning which rewards specific design elements, such as porches, and exterior materials which complement the existing streetscape. We could institute an anti-tear-down ordinance. We could even require ownership of a property for a certain time period before major changes are made.
The Borough Council is slated to vote the current proposed changes into law sometime early this fall. The Regional Planning Board should hear feedback on the proposal. To date, they have primarily heard a very limited set of perspectives. I think it's important for them to hear from residents who will also be affected by these changes.
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