February 3, 2021

Residents Concerned About Site Plan Application Filed by Princeton Academy

To the Editor:

Once again, we are writing as residents and taxpayers of Princeton. We remain eminently concerned about the Minor Site Plan application filed by Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart (Princeton Academy).

This coming Thursday, February 4, Princeton Academy will proceed with their quest for application with variances and conditional use. This discussion continues from the December 10, 2020 Planning Board meeting.

Princeton Academy has partnered with the Princeton Soccer Academy (PSA) to build an artificial turf athletic field complex on their campus, which is located on the Princeton Ridge, a unique and sensitive ecological area in Mercer County that extends across the northern part of Princeton Township. For numerous environmental and nuisance reasons that we cited previously, and contrary to the applicant’s claims, the construction and operation of this complex will be detrimental to our surrounding community.

Recently, environmentally concerned residents requested that PSA provide documentation regarding the specifics of this partnership. In turn, PSA provided this information to us. From what we have read, it is completely inappropriate for the school to continue to try and push this project through. Of note in the agreement, PSA is paying for the legal fees, engineering, and construction of the fields. Accordingly, PSA will own the athletic complex, while the school maintains ownership of the land. Further, PSA will have a 30-year lease on the land/fields. For the foreseeable future, our new next-door neighbor would be PSA. We also learned that PSA intends to build an inflatable dome structure around one of the fields for winter usage.

Princeton Academy is essentially outsourcing the build out of the fields to PSA. In return, PSA will get to use the fields on evenings and weekends year-round. We note that the original agreement is with PSA LLC, which was — and still is — a ‘for-profit’ entity. As such, it is technically not allowed to operate on this land. We understand that this arrangement was agreed to two years ago, and that PSA amended the document only in the past week or two to reflect this newly created “nonprofit” status with the sole intent of getting around zoning rules and not having to pay taxes.

Fundamentally, there is no differentiation between PSA “for-profit” and “nonprofit.” It appears that this is a shell company set up to circumvent tax liability. Furthermore, they are currently not 501c3-accredited by the IRS, which most would consider the benchmark of nonprofit status. And there is little chance the IRS would give that approval if they continue to use this structure.

This arrangement has the appearance of a thinly veiled attempt by a “for-profit” entity to get around tax laws, enabling PSA to enjoy the tax-free benefits of the arrangement. Meanwhile, local residents will face the burden of increased pollution, environmental impact, and increased traffic. This is a shameful agreement and, as residents and taxpayers, we strongly believe that this application should not be approved.

Carol and Andrew Hollingsworth
Heather Lane