Judge to Institute for Advanced Study: No Construction Prep for Housing Project Until Court Case Decided

Institute IAS Princeton NJA Mercer County Superior Court judge today issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Institute for Advanced Study from beginning work on new housing for faculty until the court has ruled on a lawsuit regarding the project.

Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson moved up the hearing on the case to September 3, about four weeks earlier than the case was scheduled to be heard, and said no construction or preparation for construction can happen on the site before then.

“While we are disappointed with the ruling, we respect Judge Jacobson’s decision regarding the temporary injunction,” the Institute for Advanced Study spokesperson said in a written statement. “We welcome her acceleration of the scheduled hearing for the Battlefield Society’s remaining appeal of the Princeton Planning Board’s approval of our project. We remain confident that the project will proceed as planned.”

Bruce Afran, the lawyer representing residents who oppose the construction of 15 housing units on property that is part of the area where the Battle of Princeton took place, said a preliminary injunction, which the judge issued, is different from a temporary injunction, which is just for a few days.

“The judge realized that even grading the site in preparation for construction will hurt the site,” Afran said. “She also said she never heard of a developer trying to build before the appeals are finished. She also said the public interest outweighs the private interest of the Institute.”

Afran also said there are new issues in the case, but added that he does not know what Jacobson’s ruling will be.

“She did say she thinks her original denial of our case was correct, but she will hear the argument again,” he said.

The lawsuit filed in Mercer County Superior Court challenges the Princeton Planning Board’s approval of the project a second time last year. A second lawsuit in the Appellate Division challenges the D&R Canal Commission’s reversal of its decision this year to vote down the project.