Thee Princeton Council agreed in closed session last night to settle the dispute with developer AvalonBay out of court regarding the redevelopment of the downtown hospital site, several sources have confirmed.
The governing body gave the go ahead for the town to enter in to a consent agreement with AvalonBay, sources said. A consent agreement is a document stating that one party will stop contested actions, which will, in turn, resolve a lawsuit.
AvalonBay is still proposing to build 280 units at the 5.6 acre site, including 56 affordable units. But the developer has redesigned its plans for the site to include two buildings and some townhouses, sources said. The buildings will be taller along Witherspoon Street. The project will include less open space overall, sources said, but an open park is proposed at the corner of Witherspoon Street and Franklin Avenue as part of the revised plans.
AvalonBay will still be required to present the revised plans to the Princeton Planning Board for approval. If the board delays a decision on the plans for too long, AvalonBay can return to court.
In February, AvalonBay filed a lawsuit in Mercer County Superior Court against the town of Princeton and the Princeton Planning Board for denying its application.
The Council voted Monday night to approve $50,000 for the AvalonBay litigation fund. Money from the fund will be used to pay the lawyers representing the town and Planning Board in the case, Miller, Porter & Muller, P.C.
Several officials and a large group of residents opposed the original plan, arguing the scale of the proposed project did not fit with the surrounding neighborhood. Residents also raised concerns about environmental issues and open space designs. Many of the residents wanted to see a reduction in the number of apartment units to be built at the site. A task force recommended reducing the density, but then some Council members and the Mayor said the number of units should be kept the same.