February 3, 2021

Encouraging Residents to Attend Zoom Meeting Regarding Proposed Turf Fields

To the Editor:

Everyone, especially our institutions, needs to pay their fair share of taxes.

This Thursday, February 4, Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart will present a plan before the Planning Board that would allow them to skirt local zoning rules and allow them to not pay their fair share of taxes.

Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart has planned for over two years with Princeton Soccer Academy to build two artificial turf fields on their property. This will certainly endanger state protected wetlands on the school grounds, destroy a sensitive ecosystem that houses endangered species, potentially poison the waters of the mountain lakes, and destroy a quiet community. 

Princeton Soccer Academy is a fully commercialized pay-to-play, state-wide, for-profit youth soccer organization. They have been recent recipients of hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal PPP loans as a for-profit entity. The problem with the school’s plan is that it operates in a residential area that is zoned for nonprofit usage only. When a group of concerned citizens opposed this project and stated the obvious, that this for-profit entity was not allowed to operate on nonprofit zoned land, the school and the soccer academy conspired to create a nonprofit out of thin air.

This nonprofit was created just a few short weeks ago. There was no public announcement, no webpage, they have no assets, no members, a board of directors made up solely of the owner and employees of the for-profit soccer academy, and no record of ever operating. This is not a nonprofit in the eyes of the IRS and is not 501c3 accredited. Their only claim to nonprofit status is an application to the state of New Jersey, which anyone can set up in a few short weeks by simply filling out a few documents and paying a small fee. The only reason this was created was to skirt local zoning laws and deny the town their fair share of tax revenues. In fact, in public documents the school just released, the school goes as far to contractually conspire with the for-profit soccer club to “cooperate with one another so as to appeal any determination by the taxing authority relative to removal of tax exemptions.”

The school’s own attorney admitted at a public hearing that the school is in dire financial straits and is in desperate need of money. We understand COVID has created financial stress for many of us, businesses and nonprofits included.  But everyone must adhere to the law. They must pay their fair share of taxes. They cannot violate the rules simply because they need money.  I encourage anyone who is concerned about local institutions using their privilege to attempt to break the rules, and avoid taxes, to dial in to the public Zoom call and listen for yourself.

Instructions for how to access the meeting are posted on the home page of Princeton’s website at princetonnj.gov and included here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85944648915; Webinar ID: 859 4464 8915.

Brendan Bibro
Heather Lane