A Superior Court Judge today ruled against a citizen group that opposes the AvalonBay development in Princeton. A lawyer for the group Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods argued that the Princeton Zoning Board of Adjustment should have jurisdiction over the AvalonBay proposal instead of the Princeton Planning Board, but the judge disagreed.
Judge Mary Jacobson, using words like “silly” and “absurd” regarding some of the Sustainable Neighborhood group’s arguments, ruled that the planning board has jurisdiction over the proposal to build 280 apartments, including 56 affordable units, at the downtown Princeton hospital site.
The group had argued, among other things, that without variances, the garage at the site would not be accessible and would need to be expanded to conform to zoning. Jacobson said the town didn’t intend to require that the garage be expanded in order to be compliant with the zoning, and said the courts should follow “common sense” rather than “literalisms and technisms.”
The Princeton Planning Board last month approved a consent agreement with AvalonBay to avoid lengthy litigation. The agreement paved the way for the developer to submit a new application for the hospital site. AvalonBay has submitted new site plans, and the planning board’s review and public hearings on the proposal will be held in late June and July.
AvalonBay is proposing to build 280 units at the 5.6 acre hospital site, including 56 affordable units. The company has redesigned its plans for the site to include two large buildings and some townhouses, instead of one monolithic building as originally proposed.
Representatives from AvalonBay will discuss the revised plans with the public at an open house from 7 to 10 p.m. on May 22nd in the Community Park School cafeteria.
Residents who oppose the development lined up at the microphone at the Princeton Council meeting Monday night to call on elected officials to “stand their ground and not give in” to AvalonBay, and to demand that the developer follow LEED certified building standards. Residents who oppose the development also said it will bring too many school children, and that the developer has a history of appealing property assessments in towns where its apartment complexes are located.