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Township Unanimously Approves Environmental Consultant

At its Monday evening meeting, Township Committee unanimously supported a proposal to hire an outside environmental consultant to review documents associated with AvalonBay’s plans to develop the former site of the Medical Center at Princeton. In a split vote last week, Borough Council did not approve the plan (see related article).

Township Committee’s vote authorizes the payment of not more than $2,999 to Sovereign Consulting, a New Jersey-based environmental consulting and remediation firm. Although not finalized, it was agreed to proceed under the assumption that Sovereign’s fee would come out of AvalonBay’s escrow account. AvalonBay attorney Anne Studholme had suggested that the fee be borne by the municipality.

Township Committee member Bernie Miller, who is also a member of the Planning Board, noted that there was “considerable concern” about environmental issues at the site, and suggested that it was important to proceed. Township Engineer Bob Kiser thought that the review could be done “fairly quickly” and would be “consistent with the current schedule.”

Mr. Kiser spoke about the importance of removing or “properly decommissioning” abandoned tanks at the site, noting that there are at least four that “will probably need to be removed,” although current AvalonBay plans do not provide for their removal. The site straddles both the Township and Borough, and there are abandoned tanks in each; Mr. Kiser suggested that they are so “intertwined,” it would be difficult to separate a response to them.

“I feel pretty strongly that this is something that we should do,” added Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert, who chaired the meeting in Mayor Chad Goerner’s absence. “We want to make sure that we are doing our due diligence.”

In other business Monday evening the Township approved a proposal to expand First Aid and Rescue Squad headquarters at 237 Harrison Street. Expansion costs will be paid by the Squad, which already serves both the Township and the Borough.

Other agenda items included the reading of a proclamation declaring Saturday, November 24 as “Small Business Saturday.” Small businesses, the proclamation said, “create jobs, boost economy,” and “preserve neighborhoods.”

Chief Financial Officer Kathy Monzo explained a resolution extending the due date of real estate taxes to November 21 because of Hurricane Sandy. She said that the Borough would be passing a similar resolution with the same date.


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