November 4, 2020

Council Votes to Introduce Ordinance For New Affordable Housing Zone

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council voted at its Monday meeting to introduce an ordinance creating a new affordable housing zone, for a project of townhouses and multifamily apartments that backs up to the Princeton Shopping Center and has frontage on Terhune Road.

The governing body also approved a resolution authorizing a settlement agreement with 375 Terhune LLC, owned by developer Roman Barsky. One house currently stands on the parcel. Both items were carried over from the Council’s meeting on October 26.

The ordinance provides a framework for the development of townhouses and multifamily apartments, 20 percent of which are designated affordable housing. There can be up to 24 townhouses and six multifamily apartments.

“This attempts to create this housing in a form that is sympathetic to the existing scale of residential development along Terhune by breaking up the apartments into two buildings, appropriately scaled and set back,” said Michael Sullivan, planning consultant. “The townhomes are a little higher and set behind them. Access would not be from Terhune, but from a new public roadway on the western side of the tract.”

The townhouses would face each other, with a courtyard or mews between them. Part of the ordinance also requires a buffer along the rear of the properties that front on Grover Avenue and Grover Park. There is also a requirement for a fence or wall, six to eight feet high. Plantings and stormwater management are also required, as is bicycle parking for the multifamily buildings.

A side path would run alongside the new road and be connected to the Princeton Shopping Center. The new path would create a direct link for residents not only of Terhune Road, but for those who live in new housing that is proposed for Thanet Road.

Mayor Liz Lempert thanked the subcommittee of Council that worked on the settlement, and also thanked Barsky for agreeing to changes from the original plans. “This is a thoughtful plan that is going to have real benefit not only for people who will be living there, but to the surrounding neighborhood, too,” she said.

A public hearing on the ordinance is Monday, November 16.

Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros reported on plans to enliven the downtown for the holiday season, including the purchase of 30 evergreens by the town’s Shade Tree Commission for placement along Nassau and Witherspoon streets. Most will have lights. After the holidays, they will be planted in public places.

Lambros said plans are proceeding for a winter carnival, and asked Council members if they thought spending $10,000 to purchase six sheds for vendor stalls, which would be on Nassau Street, Hinds Plaza, and Palmer Square, was a good idea.

Councilwoman Mia Sacks commented that there has been resistance among the business community to the idea, and money might be spent for more pressing needs. Some other Council members also expressed various reservations, but the governing body agreed informally that the idea should be explored.