Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 38
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
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Regional Planning Board Considers Princeton University’s Campus Plan

Dilshanie Perera

While no formal action was taken by the Regional Planning Board at last Thursday’s meeting, board members did get a chance to consider proposals for a possible amendment to the Master Plan.

Chair of the Master Plan Subcommittee and Planning Board Member Marvin Reed explained the proposed addition as something that would “provide more policy detail” to set the framework for assessing new development by educational and non-profit institutions in the future.

Thoughts about an amendment arose when the subcommittee began considering Princeton University’s Campus Plan and realized that “much of what we were saying should really apply in general,” Mr. Reed said.

The subcommittee envisions the amendment informing the land use element of the plan, and containing specifics regarding the expansion of individual campuses.

General principles to be considered include diversity, balance, tax exemption, traffic, conditional uses, community interaction, preservation, auto alternatives, intersections, housing, environment, stormwater management, global warming, and having an open campus.

Planning Director Lee Solow elaborated upon the more specific principles dealing with Princeton University, suggesting that non-residential development be situated away from Nassau Street. Particular attention should be paid to the edges between campus and community, as well as vehicular access, transportation demand management (TDM) strategies, and sustainability.

Mr. Reed pointed out that the University has plans to construct 1.5 million square feet of additional space, and expand the population of undergraduates from 4,900 to 5,200, of graduate students from 2,087 to 2,400, and faculty and staff from 5,268 to 5,400 by 2016.

“This is not a huge increase in people, but we are anticipating considerably more activity among those people,” he said, adding that “our goal all the way along is to keep peak period traffic as limited as possible.”

While the precise numbers may change over time, Mr. Solow mentioned that the total number of parking spaces on campus is expected to increase by 400. Some non-academic offices would be relocated to nearby sites, and plans are in the works for building an eastern campus garage, he reported.

Regarding the proposed Arts and Transit Neighborhood, Mr. Reed said, “We have not been able to reach a point where we feel this has been analyzed enough. It certainly would be an attractive addition to campus and community if we can find the right way to do it.”

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Marty Schneiderman, spokesperson for the EQuad Neighbors (formerly the Eastern Campus Neighbors), proposed a few additions to the draft amendment document.

Citing traffic backups from Route 1 arteries in getting into and out of Princeton, Mr. Schneiderman said “we need to be concerned about what’s happening to our property and the neighboring property.”

The neighbors also highlighted the need for a TDM strategy to be presented with “significant institutional and educational developments,” to which Mr. Solow replied that various Borough and Township ordinances already cover that need.

“We’re not wedded to these particular words, rather the concepts that are here,” Mr. Schneiderman remarked.

Princeton University Vice President and Secretary Robert Durkee noted that the timetable for some projects in the Campus Plan had changed, and that some of the data mentioned in the presentation was out of date. He also mentioned that the 1.5 million square feet does not account for offsetting demolition, and that the net gain in square footage would be a smaller area.

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