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Snowden Proposal Gets Cool Reception At Recent Hearing

Matthew Hersh

A plan to build seven homes on a heavily-wooded property on Snowden Lane did not sit well with residents Thursday, when the proposal was heard by the Regional Planning Board of Princeton. Nothing was finalized, however, since the late hour forced the board to carry the hearing to July 13.

Worries from both residents and some members of the Planning Board stemmed from the possible ramifications of sub-dividing the 15-acre property into seven lots ranging from 1.5 and 2.5 acres and a new pump station near the intersection of Van Dyke and All Saints roads. An access road, tentatively called Prentice Lane, would lead into the development, ending in a cul-de-sac.

The tract, which contains a small wetland area on the northeast corner and larger wetland areas on the southeast corner, is associated with an unnamed tributary of Harry's Brook, which has been subject to flooding, in part, due to an increase in development throughout the Borough and Township.

"I would not be real happy to have additional stormwater flow into Harry's Brook," said Bill Enslin, whose remarks prefaced testimony by Joel Schwartz, a Township resident and a principal of the developer Landmark at Princeton, LLC. Mr. Enslin also said that the number of the estimated 780 trees eight inches in caliper or more that would have to be removed to build the subdivision was "unacceptable." He recommended that Mr. Schwartz meet with Greg O'Neil, the Township's arborist and open space manager, to work on the plan. Mr. O'Neil said that he had not yet reviewed the plan.

Neil Yoskin, attorney for Landmark, indicated that the plan submitted to the board called for the planting of about 200 trees and 33 shrubs and an additional 34 shrubs for the pumping station. Mr. Yoskin also said that he expected that any approval by the Planning Board would be "conditional" with a tree-planting plan.

The wetlands element of the plan was contested by residents, who said that the property was incorrectly analyzed based on a five-year-old Freshwater Wetlands Letter of Interpretation (LOI) by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) obtained by the current property owner, Myerson Associates. Residents say that mention of the existence of an active, year-round stream that runs through the property was omitted in the LOI. The stream drains the Herrontown Woods Preserve and connects to Harry's Brook. R. William Potter, attorney for the residents, had unsuccessfully attempted to delay the application hearing, according to officials at the office of the Planning Board. A set of prepared statements by Mr. Potter said that Mr. Schwartz did not object to a continuance.

In August, a group known as the Herrontown Woods Citizens Association called on the DEP to review the LOI, but, according to Mr. Potter, the DEP said it had misplaced the original LOI files. In light of that, the Association and Mr. Potter have asked the DEP to void the LOI and re-evaluate the property. DEP has indicated that new site inspections will occur.

Mr. Schwartz said he would attempt to address all concerns raised by both the Planning Board and the residents: "Our goal from the get-go is to come up with something that we had hoped would be non-controversial simply because it complies with all the Township's regulations."

The property was first purchased in 1958 by the Myerson family, who had settled there to raise a family until leaving the area in the late 1960s. The family decided to sell the property "several years ago," according to Mr. Schwartz.


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