Council Prepares Affordable Housing Plan
By Donald Gilpin
Princeton Council, currently in the process of drafting its Housing Element and Fair Share Plan (HEFSP) to comply with state affordable housing requirements, announced its Affordable Housing Compliance Schedule at its May 7 meeting.
At the meeting, Council also presented former Borough Mayor Mildred Trotman with an award of recognition, proclaimed May 2018 Walk and Bike to School Month, and held a working session on the ongoing parking meter and smart card replacement project.
The Council and Planning Board will hold a joint public meeting on May 17 to present the proposed affordable housing sites to the public and invite community feedback. In the meantime, an updated FAQ on affordable housing has been posted on the municipal website, princetonnj.gov.
A recent court decision set Princeton’s affordable housing obligation at 753 new units counting from 1999 to 2025. More than 200 units have already been constructed since 1999, most recently at Copperwood, AvalonBay, Merwick-Stanworth, Carnevale Plaza and three group homes for disabled adults. The next step is for Princeton to submit a plan showing how it will achieve the remainder of its 753-unit obligation.
Following the May 17 session, the Planning Board will meet on June 7 for a public hearing and adoption of HEFSP, and the Council will meet the following week to endorse HEFSP. The Council is scheduled for a hearing in Trenton on July 24 to have the housing plan approved by the court. After court approval of the plan the Council will introduce necessary ordinances and resolutions, to be reviewed by the Planning Board with the Council planning a public hearing and adoption of the ordinances by the end of August.
In the Town Topics Mailbox this week, Mayor Liz Lempert and Council President Jenny Crumiller offer further explanation of the challenges and rewards of the affordable housing initiative. “We all want our seniors to be able to afford to grow old in our community, our children to afford to move back as adults, and our families who have lived here for generations to continue to do so,” they wrote.
“Princeton has a long-established practice of building affordable housing to help address these goals. Affordable units provide a reliable source of housing for low-, moderate-, and very low-income families and individuals and add to the diversity of housing options.”
In presenting the Award of Recognition to former mayor and Planning Board member Trotman, Council member Heather Howard noted, “She personifies this award. We honor you and all you’ve done in your service for more than a quarter century, with a critical role during consolidation. You set us up for the successes we’ve achieved.”
Lempert added that Trotman had “inspired me to emulate your leadership style. You always listened, never rushed to judgement.” Commending Trotman’s dedication and wisdom, Lempert continued, “We’re a better community because of you.”
Trotman expressed her gratitude at getting to serve Princeton for 27 years. Describing herself as “not a politician,” she said, “The longer I went door-to-door the more I did enjoy shaking hands, talking to people, and getting their ideas. I’m truly, truly grateful to the residents of Princeton for their faith in me.”
In other business, Mayor Lempert proclaimed May as Walk and Bike to School Month, with a number of bike-related events scheduled throughout the month. Council member Tim Quinn discussed the experimental Beta Bike lane project, with temporary bike lanes being established from May 19 to May 29 on Wiggins Street and Hamilton Avenue from behind the public library to Walnut Lane.
Julie Dixon of Dixon Resources Unlimited led the Council work session on parking, providing an update on the parking meter and smart card replacement project, which seeks to improve efficiency. Lempert noted the project’s focus on areas where parking is in short supply and added that part of the goal is to use smart meter technology to help simplify regulations and create a more unified system.
The mayor also reported that the Council is closely monitoring state legislation that will go into effect on July 3 to allow communities to establish a charitable fund to which residents can contribute and receive tax write-offs. “We can’t act on anything yet,” she said, but the state treasurer will be issuing guidelines and the New Jersey League of Municipalities may offer additional guidance.
Lempert noted, “There are questions as to whether this will stand up under legal scrutiny. The new tax bill hit Princeton hard. We’re hoping for some kind of relief, but we’re cautious. We don’t want to set up anything that residents will rely on unless it is definite.”