Town Names Director of Emergency Services at Council Meeting
By Anne Levin
The appointment of Michael Yeh as Princeton’s new director of emergency and safety services was announced at Princeton Council’s virtual meeting on Monday, August 10.
Since the passing of former Emergency Services Director Robert Gregory last January, Princeton Police Chief Nicholas Sutter has been acting as the town’s director of emergency management.
Yeh, who was Rider University’s Commander of Emergency Management and Special Operations since 2013, will be coordinating Princeton’s emergency management while overseeing the Fire Prevention, Housing Inspection offices, and the Fire Department. The director also serves as the liaison to the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad.
“He comes with a wealth of knowledge,” Municipal Administrator Marc Dashield said before introducing Yeh, via Zoom, at the meeting. In a press release, Dashield added, “Michael’s experience and expertise in emergency services will be critical as we continue to manage our current public health emergency.”
Yeh’s appointment will become effective on August 24, which is the date of Council’s next meeting. “I’m very excited about this step, and engaging with the Princeton community to refine our preparedness,” he said, “and working with the community to identify any areas of concern they have.”
Also at the meeting, Princeton Police Captain Chris Morgan delivered the 2019 Annual Police Department Report, which is nearly 80 pages long. “This is by far the most comprehensive report we’ve put together,” he said. “There is a significant amount of data. We’re very aware that there is significant amount of concern in the community about the police. But this is our way of being transparent — having a dialogue and open conversation, and moving from there.”
Among the topics Morgan cited as most important are marijuana arrests, probable cause searches, and use of force. The full report is available on the municipal website, princetonnj.gov.
Council voted to introduce three ordinances. One updates an existing ordinance for tree protection zones, clarifying and better defining the way contractors are supposed to protect trees on neighboring properties during construction. It also addresses an increase in tree replacement fees, which were put in place in 2016. A second ordinance geared to outdoor dining during the pandemic broadens the original measure to include retail businesses and service establishments, and extends it until the end of 2020. A third ordinance amends the definition of an accessory dwelling unit, allowing for separate owners on a property instead of one owner for the principal dwelling and the accessory dwelling.
Council voted to approve a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the development of affordable housing on the Franklin Avenue properties. Responding to some comments from residents that they have not been included in the planning process, which could add between 80 and 160 units to the site, Councilwoman Mia Sacks said the plan is in its early stages and public participation will be a priority.
“This is a MOA, not a development agreement,” she said, adding that she and fellow subcommittee members Michele Pirone Lambros and David Cohen are considering setting up an email account where people can send ideas, or a website which would display different concepts and allow comment. The process will begin with consideration of recommendations on the development complied by members of the group Princeton Future.
Another resolution approved an amendment to the redevelopment agreement between the municipality and AvalonBay Communities, which is building an apartment complex on Thanet Road. The developer has agreed to contribute $500,000 for sustainable transportation initiatives. “We really appreciate this gesture from AvalonBay and we’re looking forward to planning for that,” said Sacks.
Also, Council voted in favor of a resolution authorizing the temporary removal of up to four on-street parking spaces on Pine Street to accommodate outdoor dining at Blue Point Grill and Small World Coffee.