November 5, 2014

Princeton Planning Board to Consider Institute Faculty Housing Plans Thursday

The Princeton Planning Board is due to vote on the Institute for Advanced Study’s amended plan to build faculty housing on its land close to the Princeton Battlefield State Park when it meets this Thursday, November 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Witherspoon Hall.

The Planning Board had been expected to vote on the issue at a public hearing in September but the vote was postponed after hours of often contentious discussion by both supporters and opponents of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) plans.

The Princeton Battlefield Society has vehemently opposed building on land which, they attest, is part of the historic battleground, the site of General George Washington’s counterattack against the British during the 1777 Battle of Princeton.

Lawyers for the IAS and the Battlefield Society have locked horns repeatedly on the issue, which has received much press coverage since members of the Princeton Planning Board unanimously approved the Institute’s building plan in March 2012.

The plans had then to be approved by the D&R Canal Commission, which came down against the proposal in January 2013, on the grounds of encroachment on a stream corridor.

Members of the Princeton community have written numerous letters to the editor on the subject. At the public hearing in September, Witherspoon Hall was filled almost to capacity with people sporting “I support IAS” buttons on one side and “Save the Princeton Battlefield” on the other.

The Planning Board’s October meeting was cancelled.

The IAS plans to build eight townhouses and seven single-family homes on a seven-acre parcel of its campus. Having amended its original plan after the Canal Commission review, it is now coming back to the Planning Board for approval of amendments that include slightly smaller lots that are a third of an acre further away from the stream.

According to the IAS, the plans now to be considered satisfy the Commission’s requirements.

According to the Princeton Battlefield Society, the changes constitute a new plan and should be reviewed as such. Battlefield Society attorney Bruce Afran has argued repeatedly for a new full-scale review of the IAS proposal.

Battlefield Society members have opposed the development from its inception and filed several lawsuits in support of its aims to stop the Institute from building.