An Open Letter to Mayor and Council
Dear Mayor Lempert and Members of Princeton Council:
I am forwarding the letter dated July 1, 2016 that Bob Powell sent to the Princeton Planning Board which he also sent to various Vandeventer and neighbors.
There is an overarching problem with Princeton’s planning processes and procedures including applicant requested changes to properties located in residential zones.
In 2007, the owners of 19 Vandeventer filed an application with the Shade Tree Commission requesting that a large swath of trees and shrubs be removed. (~ 20’x40′) The application was signed off on and approved by Princeton municipal officials regardless of a list of defects in the application and the legal requirements for stormwater management and neighbor notifications being entirely absent and neglected.
As it turned out due to the homeowner and Princeton Borough municipal staff not conducting proper research;
the trees and shrubs were removed, the area re-graded with heavy equipment and gravel put in place for new parking spaces – exactly where an old detention basin with an underground culvert drainage system was located. The culvert system was crushed, unbeknownst to the homeowners or municipal staff, and the unfortunate relentless flooding into the neighboring proper ensued. (For many months until several sinkholes in the new driveway occurred which finally led to the discovery of the crushed drainage culvert.)
Are we looking a similar yet different situation regarding the Princeton Planning Board’s decision to approve of Christian Union’s application? Has sufficient and essential information and non-hearsay testimony been researched, requested, obtained, submitted, reviewed and discussed? No.
I suggest that you view the Planning Board Meeting – June 16, 2016 video in its entirety. https://www.princetonnj.gov/PB/video/2016/PB-061616.html
From the NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ON APPLICATION / PLANNING BOARD OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF PRINCETON / Dated June 1, 2016:
“The applicant also seeks approval of a Conditional Use pursuant to former Princeton Borough’s Land Development Ordinance 17A-255(b)4 as a building for the exclusive use of an educational institution or for the exclusive us of a nonprofit organization serving the interests of such educational institution, and 17A-208.”
Where is the written documented proof that Christian Union serves or will be serving the interests of Princeton University? There was no testimony from any Princeton University administrators. There were no affidavits presented from any Princeton University administrators.
There was verbal testimony regarding the maximum allowable number of person in the house at anyone time. However it was difficult to understand who presented this testimony because the camera system was not functioning properly. Was the Princeton Fire Official, Robert Gregory consulted or other authoritative municipal staff and did they provide written testimony regarding; the maximum allowed number of persons, a sprinkler systems, hardwired monitored smoke detectors, emergency exit signs and back up emergency lighting would or would not be required?
The testimony regarding parking was disingenuous and incorrect.
Is it truly in the best interests of the immediate neighborhood, the Princeton community at large and truly fair for those Planning Board members who needed the time to take into consideration and deliberate on newly acquired information which is imparted verbally by an applicant as well as the testimony from the “Three Minuteers” to have severely limited discussion and then hold an immediate vote? No.
I truly hope that Bob Powell’s most articulate letter is persuasive enough to solicit a “do over”.
In all walks of American life rushed decisions void of verified facts often leads to “unintended consequences” and/or the adjudication of contentious issues.
I suggest that you take the time to review the video archive of the Planning Board meeting in its entirely.
“When will we ever learn?”
Submitted with my appreciation for you time and consideration-