December 11, 2018

Princeton Ridge Wetlands Should Be Preserved as Part of Sustainability Plan

To the Editor:

A critical wetland structure on the Princeton Ridge is under imminent threat. These wetlands — which support a tributary to Mountain Lakes and habitat for a wide variety of wildlife — stretch across several acres near the corner of Ridgeview Road and the Great Road.

Last year, a developer built a 5,000-square-foot home on the corner property at 410 Ridgeview directly abutting wetland areas delineated by New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Now the same developer is asking Princeton for permission to build another large home on the adjoining 3-acre lot at 394 Ridgeview Road. The property is zoned for 4-acre construction, so a variance from the town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment is needed before the project can proceed.

These wetlands should be preserved as an integral part of Princeton’s municipal sustainability plan. The property is covered in springs, which are the headwaters to Mountain Brook, a C-1 stream that flows past Stuart School and Tenacre into Mountain Lakes, Princeton’s reservoir. The area is covered by obligate wetland species such as skunk cabbage, rush, vestiges of cattail, sensitive fern, and phragmites.

These wetlands also provide important habitat for a plethora of salamanders, frogs, turtles, migratory songbirds, raptors, and wild turkeys. Neighbors have even reported seeing a bobcat, which is endangered in New Jersey. In addition, the property is a major corridor for deer that move daily between the forests on the north side of the Ridge into the Preserve and Mountain Lakes. If the wetlands are blocked with a fence, it can be anticipated deer will wander onto the Great Road in a school zone near the crest of the Ridge, creating a traffic hazard.

We urge members of the Zoning Board to uphold Princeton’s 4-acre zoning ordinance for this property. And we invite all who are concerned with the preservation of the Princeton Ridge to attend the Zoning Board meeting this Wednesday, December 12 at 7:30 p.m. Please join us in protecting these critical wetlands on the Ridge and the remarkable creatures they sustain.

Christopher Barr

Ridgeview Road