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Bunn Housing Set for Final Review

Matthew Hersh

A proposal for senior housing on Bunn Drive is slated for final review this week, amid strong environmental, architectural, and logistical concerns.

The proposal, from developer K. Hovnanian, calls for 140 units in five three-story garden-apartment style buildings, and is set for full review by the Regional Planning Board of Princeton this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Township Hall.

Tentatively called "Four Seasons," the housing complex failed to receive a recommendation for approval from the Planning Board's Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) when it heard the application in July. That followed public criticism from members of the Princeton Environmental Commission and the Township Historic Preservation Commission.

Concerns about the plans relate to the rocky terrain along the western portion of Bunn Drive, just south of Hilltop Park. The 20.9-acre site is dominated by bedrock that would require extensive blasting if ground were broken there. SPRAB members also worried about the sloping nature of the site and whether it was suitable for housing. The complex would lie on approximately 17.75 acres of the site.

Concerns about blasting soon revealed that the proposed development straddles the Transco pipeline and the 85-foot wide corridor that surrounds it, and that Princeton Community Village lies just northeast of the site. Any blasting would have to be overseen by Elizabethtown Water Co.

At the time when the application failed to receive approval, SPRAB Chairman William Wolfe lambasted Hovnanian for designing buildings that, he felt, were incompatible with the land, adding that the developer intends to "bulldoze the hell out of the land" rather than adjust building design.

Hovnanian representatives at the time said the nature of a development that lends itself to senior living needs to be dense for maximum mobility for the residents.

In addition to the residential units, Hovnanian is asking to build a 6,500-square-foot, one-story clubhouse with an outdoor pool, terrace, bocce courts, and a putting green. Pedestrian pathways and landscaping are also intended for the Four Seasons.

The Township's Office Research Zone with a Residential Senior Community District overlay zone, allows for such housing. Hovnanian is required to seek variances for a setback for a detention basin, limiting development on some of the steeper parts of the site, signage, and wall and fence height.

The Four Seasons proposal will be reviewed by the Environmental Commission this evening, September 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Township Hall, in advance of Thursday's Planning Board hearing.

This is not the only plan for senior housing near Bunn Drive. A second application by developer Morgan Estates for 98 age-restricted condominium units in three apartment-style buildings, all three stories, and 45-feet tall is set for consideration by the Princeton Township Zoning Board of Adjustment next Wednesday, September 28, at 7:30. That application would place housing on the eastern side of Bunn, southeast of the Princeton Community Village.


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