Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 5
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
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Regional Planning Board Subcommittee Discusses Draft Amendment to Master Plan

Dilshanie Perera

The Regional Planning Board’s Master Plan Subcommittee met last Wednesday to discuss the draft amendment to the Princeton Community Master Plan, which would add a summary and assessment of Princeton University’s 10-year campus plan to the document.

The conversation centered on how detailed the amendment should be, and whether it should be extended to other institutions in town besides the university.

The draft amendment is a 16-page document that elaborates on the Planning Board’s stance toward University development. Sketching out the tenets of the University’s campus plan, the amendment mentions new development, relocation of services, parking management, the East Campus Garage, child care facilities, roadway improvements, transportation demand management strategies, wayfinding, sustainability initiatives, green house gas reduction, resource conservation, civic engagement, campus housing, the arts and transit neighborhood, and campus planning beyond 2016.

The University-proposed Arts and Transit Neighborhood would restructure the southern part of campus between the Dinky tracks and Alexander Street south of College Road. While posing some unresolved questions about the neighborhood, the amendment recommends that more study is required before coming to a conclusion.

Planning Director Lee Solow noted that in terms of development or expansion, “It would be nice to have overall goals to refer to,” since “all of these apply pretty generally, whether it is the Hun School, PDS, Westminster, or the Seminary.”

Calling the information and level of detail in the draft amendment a “curious mix,” Vice President and Secretary of the University Bob Durkee suggested that some of the information included does not necessarily belong in a master plan, and cautioned that the University’s approach to plan elements like traffic demand management is constantly evolving, and not frozen in time.

Marty Schneiderman from the Eastern Campus Neighbors group said that the document should be more specific regarding benchmarks, and should firmly outline “what is the appropriate amount of expansion into residential neighborhoods.” He advocated determining requirements and numbers beyond which the University and other institutions would not be able to build.

Planning Board Attorney Allen Porter reminded the subcommittee that the community master plan informs the zoning, and that site plan requirements also have to be taken into account regarding development.

“The community is working under a deficit of hard information. The University has done its work, and it’s up to us to decide,” said Sheldon Sturges, who is a co-chair of Princeton Future. “The large question is how. How to get there cooperatively, rather than adversarially.”

Mr. Durkee noted that the University would “in fact value more guidance from the community,” particularly in the case of Nassau Street. Regarding text in the draft amendment that recommends “avoiding encroachment,” he suggested that the idea be more fully developed, and that a more nuanced description regarding the edges of the campus be set down in the document.

Work on the amendment is ongoing.

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