Letters: Princeton Shouldn’t Settle for Less Than a Desirable, Sustainable Development at Former Hospital Site

To the Editor:

Other communities have rejected AvalonBay developments including Highland Park, NJ and Huntington, Long Island.  Princeton should do the same unless it can be assured that AvalonBay will be an asset to the community and not just an opportunistic developer which muscles its way in using affordable housing as its battering ram to build undesirable, huge structures that are not sustainable over the long haul. Their interests are relatively short-term, while Princeton will be left with the problem of poor site use for generations.   Of particular interest are several recent letters to the editor: “AvalonBay’s Closed Compound Impedes Connectivity between Our Neighborhoods”,  “AvalonBay’s Revisions to Plans Still Do Not Comply with Borough Code and “AvalonBay Should Build to LEED Standards.”

Why should Princeton settle for a less than desirable, sustainable  development in a premier location once occupied by the hospital?  Aside from its financial profits, AvalonBay will gain a lot from having the Princeton connection and will likely use the connection to attract other communities who may reason “If  AvalonBay’s  cookie-cutter design is  good for Princeton, it must be good for us,”  making assumptions that are inaccurate.

Princeton can do better and should.  The Planning Board will have a heavy burden to justify approving this proposed development and it will need an astute planning staff to address the many issues raised over the past several months by the public  for the benefit of the community.  They must exhibit  the mettle necessary to insure the best design possible, one that adheres to the Princeton Master Plan and the promised compromise reached between the Hospital and the community  that resulted in the MRRO zone .  Our community cannot  afford to be intimidated by the tenor of  the June 11, 2012 letter written by AvalonBay’s local attorney Anne Studholme to Borough Attorney Chow and Planning Board Attorney Porter and included as part of  AvalonBay’s  Site Plan submission of June 8, 2012.

Diane Perna