Council Hopes to Resume In-Person Meetings Next Month
By Anne Levin
At a meeting of Princeton Council Monday night, action was taken on ordinances and resolutions related to cannabis businesses, the 2021 Community Development Block Grant, and a study in connection with the town’s leaf and brush program.
The governing body heard a report from Planning Director Michael LaPlace on a zoning request from the Hun School, and an update on COVID-19 from Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser.
Mayor Mark Freda opened the virtual meeting by saying Council is hoping to resume in-person meetings on September 13.
Council member Mia Sacks reported that the town’s new transit partner, WeDriveU, will include extra hours of free bus service on Wednesdays and Fridays from 4-7 p.m., in addition to morning and evening hours.
“The town is finished with our side of this,” Sacks said. “We’re waiting for the state to sign off on a form certifying that WeDriveU complies with affirmative action and employee regulations.”
The Hun School is seeking rezoning for properties next to the campus from residential (R2) to educational (E4). The properties, Mason House and the Mall, are already part of the school. Mason House was formerly the headmaster’s home, but the headmaster now resides in Johnson House, which was a gift from the late Betty Wold Johnson.
Rezoning would allow the school to use the building for administrative and other uses. The Mall is a linear green space that would be kept undeveloped.
Grosser reported that the emergence of the Delta variant accounts for 90 percent of New Jersey infections during the past few weeks. “Princeton has lagged a bit in the upturn in cases,” he said. “We’re just starting to see the uptick that the rest of the state has seen.”
Twelve new COVID cases have been reported in Princeton during the past seven days, the highest number since March. “Delta is clearly the dominant variant in the country. The good news is that we won’t likely see a New Jersey surge like we saw in January,” he said. “It is really important to recognize that the risk is highest among the unvaccinated. But even for those who have been vaccinated, it does make sense to be a little more cautious. Any measure we take now will help limit the number of people who get sick in the weeks to come.”
The Princeton Health Department will hold a vaccination clinic at Hinds Plaza on August 27, from 5-9 p.m. Princeton University’s clinics will start back up in September, Grosser said.
Council voted in favor of an ordinance banning cannabis businesses while the issue is further studied. Council President Leticia Fraga, who is on the task force examining the issue, said the town is only opting out for now. “We do want to engage the public and have maybe two community meetings,” she said. “We’re looking at mid-September for the first one.”
Council voted to introduce an ordinance abolishing the Local Assistance Board. Residents who need assistance would be sent to Trenton instead of municipal offices in Princeton. A public hearing will be held on September 23.
Resolutions related to programs of the Community Development Block Grant, provided by federal funds of more than $225,000, were approved. The 2020 plan was also amended.
Council voted to hire DeFeo Associates as consultants to study the town’s leaf and brush, and solid waste collection. Regarding the leaf and brush collection, Sacks commented that the issue has been pending for a long time. “This will be a data-driven decision-making process,” she said. “We’re finally going to find out what the numbers are and put it out to the public to figure out how we can do it better, more sustainably, and make it cost effective as well.”
Council holds its next agenda meeting on August 17 at 11 a.m. The next regular meeting is August 23 at 7 p.m. Visit princetonnj.gov to virtually attend.