Princeton Council to Discuss Business Hours Ordinance, Overnight Parking, Salaries and More Tonight

The site of the proposed 7-Eleven on Nassau Street.
The site of the proposed 7-Eleven on Nassau Street.

The governing body for the town of Princeton will discuss a controversial proposal to limit the hours for retail business operations tonight.  The council will also discuss the town’s parking ordinances, salaries for town employees and officials, the leaf and brush collection schedule, affordable housing, and several other items.

The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the main meeting room at the municipal building at 400 Witherspoon Street. The agenda is packed with items for discussion, a status report on the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, five ordinances, and several resolutions, including a$35,900 contract for the demolition of flood-prone 59 Meadowbrook Road and a $36,200 contract for a traffic study at the intersection of Valley Road and Route 206.

In addition to the salary ordinance, the council will also consider an ordinance opposing fracking.

At the end of the meeting the council will go into closed session to discuss litigation related to AvalonBay and police issues. The council will also hold a closed session prior to the meeting at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the hiring of a new town administrator to replace Bob Bruschi, who plans to retire in October.

A town official has recommended that the governing body consider approving an ordinance that would limit the hours that businesses such as convenience stores, food retail stores  and restaurants could remain open. The catalyst for the ordinance is the proposed 7-Eleven store that is proposed for the former West Coast Video site on Nassau Street.

Town Planner Lee Solow has received a number of complaints from residents about noise, litter, and crowds congregating near businesses that are open late at night and early in the morning. It may be possible to regulate the hours for retail businesses under the municipality’s police powers, he said.

Most businesses in Princeton open at 8 a.m. or later and close at 9 p.m The exceptions are the two CVS stores in Princeton, the Wawa, Hoagie Haven, Dominos, and several restaurants.

Solow has recommended that the governing body develop an ordinance that would restrict the operating hours for retail businesses, restaurants, and other food establishments that are adjacent to a residential zone or adjacent to a residence in a residential zone. He has recommended that businesses open no earlier than 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. and be allowed to stay open no later than midnight or 2 a.m. Exemptions would be carved out for plenary retail liquor consumption and distribution licenses, which are regulated under other municipal codes, and for 24-hour pharmacies.

The Princeton Merchants Association opposes the ordinance and several business owners plan to attend the meeting tonight to speak out against it.