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Residents Asked to Attend and Speak Out At Planning Board Hearings on AvalonBay

To the Editor:

Planning Board hearings on the AvalonBay application begin October 25 and continue into December. Please attend these momentous sessions. Speak out. The Planning Board’s decision will affect the Princeton community for generations.

AvalonBay’s site plan violates Borough Code on multiple counts. It is absolutely noncompliant with the 2006 Master Plan, upon which many people in Princeton worked for over two years (over 85 meetings) — with dedication, foresight, and a genuine commitment to endowing the old hospital site with a new neighborly viability, both social and economic. Please do not let our citizens’ work be trashed. (Contact me at dah43@comcast.net for unofficial transcripts of the 2005-2006 Planning Board hearings on the hospital site.)

A monolithic enclosed block of apartments is not what Princeton stands for. A private enclave without public open space, without ways for people to cross the site from one neighborhood to another, is not what Princeton stands for (a 2005 concept plan called for a minimum 50,000 square feet of public open space: green park, walkways, playgrounds). Walled streetscape frontages five stories high (from 238 to 485 feet long) should not become Princeton’s signature. Construction without adoption of best green practices (including provisions for composting) is not what Sustainable Princeton stands for. Ten percent of Princeton Borough’s housing, barred from civic life by “No Solicitation” signs — this is not the Princeton that’s been my home for 30 years.

Princeton’s officials, our overworked municipal staff, and the public know that AvalonBay, since March 2012, has threatened lawsuit after lawsuit if the Planning Board does not approve their application. We are tired of the bullying refrain.

We must sound another note.

Municipal governing bodies that fear lawsuits will never get the zoning — the buildings, the layout, the best conception of their community — that they want, need, and deserve. (So I was told, some years ago, by a professional, experienced environmentalist who is also an urban planner. I hear that person’s wisdom.)

The Planning Board must find its spine. The public must help our Planning Board face down the assault on Princeton’s commitment to recreating the hospital site in a creative manner that benefits all of us. Come to Planning Board meetings.

Please write to our Planning Board members. They must be held accountable.

In this time of nationwide political conflict and socio-economic distress for so many, with drastic financial cutbacks at all levels affecting all of the 99 percent, think what we all can do locally, now and here in Princeton, for these next few weeks of critical hearings, to help Princeton be the community our Master Plan rightly says we want to be. Help defeat AvalonBay.

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

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