March 11, 2020

Council Approves Resolution To Remove Fueling Station Canopy

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council voted unanimously on Monday, March 9, in favor of a resolution to hire the contractor Independence Constructors for removal of the canopy at the municipal fueling station on Mount Lucas Road. Since the canopy was installed last February, neighbors have complained that it is unsightly and too harshly lit at night.

The resolution authorizes $61,227 for the project, which will also include new lighting, extending a masonry wall, raising all masonry walls to nine feet, and installing dark-colored stucco and capstone to the wall.

The town’s Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) has also recommended removing a rain garden for stormwater runoff at the site, and adding more screening on the other side, which is on Route 206. The rain garden, which is a stormwater requirement, is currently located in a tight spot between a 6-foot-wide sidewalk and a wall. That limits choices in terms of what can be planted there.

With an estimated cost of $124,500 to get permission to change the design from the Department of Environmental

Protection and the Delaware River Canal Commission, Council agreed to look further into alternatives to the proposal before taking any action.

Getting a new plan approved by the DEP would be the first step that would have to be taken, said municipal engineer Deanna Stockton. Council discussed having Stockton come back with a more limited proposal, after consulting a civil engineer who is an expert in rain gardens.

“I’m frankly very concerned about opening things with the DEP,” said Councilwoman Eve Niedergang. “It could lead to a very long delay.” Councilwoman Mia Sacks asked whether the rationale for moving the rain garden was aesthetic or related to safety. While both are taken into consideration, the priority is safety. Councilman David Cohen said, “A big part of what we’re trying to do is improve the pedestrian experience.”

There is also concern that runoff from the driveway could include fuel, which would affect the health of plantings at the site. One alternative that was mentioned is to replace the rain garden with an underground water storage.

The municipal fueling station is next to the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad’s new headquarters. Responding to residents’ objections about the canopy last fall, the governing body explored moving the station elsewhere. But they voted to keep it in the same location while making various accommodations.

A municipal fueling station has been on the property at the corner of Valley Road and Mount Lucas Road since the early 1980s. It was the former Princeton Township’s fueling station for school buses, police vehicles, ambulances, and fire trucks.