Lanwin housing development on the Princeton Ridge is not environmentally friendly

To the Editor:

The Princeton Planning Board should vote against the Lanwin development Thursday night. It is environmentally unsustainable; it pulls Princeton into economic discrimination against those who can only afford “affordable housing,” not the estimated $1.5 million for a stand-alone house in what was once woodlands.

The plan’s disregard for environmental sustainability is dangerous and contrary to the goals of Princeton municipality. It destroys trees, which store carbon monoxide, eliminates root systems that filter water and lessen the impact of global warming and the increased frequency of Hundred-Year Floods evident to all. Lanwin’s plan foolishly builds outward, not up, contrary to all best building practices to lessen environmental hazards. It disregards the model set by Bob Hillier when he chose to develop the Copperwood site on 4.5 acres, not the 18.5 acres allowed him by earlier site plan approvals. Both the ruin of diabase and the need for retaining wall infrastructure to keep this sprawling cluster intact will further damage this wooded acreage. No plans for geothermal heating have been announced.

The plan is economically discriminatory. It places those with less or marginal wealth on a geographic set-aside in Princeton’s furthest northwest corner. It segregates the un-rich from the rich in their own mandated enclave. The cost of gas will dig through their pockets. Nor is public transportation is not cost-free, either in dollars or pollutants. Avalon Bay at least has the virtue of integrating, without visible financial discrimination, the affordable units and the market-rate units.

The proposal runs counter to everything that successive municipal governments have acted to achieve. Neither the Planning Board nor Princeton Township can credibly embrace socio-economic diversity if either one caves in to this misguided plan.

Daniel Harris
Dodds Lane


  1. Bravo. This is beautiful and historic land, an ecological keystone to any serious greenway, and should of course be saved, as the Master Plan says. And wait: hasn’t it been 30 years since the Master Plan was thoroughly revisited? What is our council waiting for?

  2. Housing developments are not environmentally friendly as a rule. Lawns? Overdosed with chemicals and nutrients, require constant mowing with gas engine machines that have no emission controls, and throw dust and allergens into the air.

  3. So it’s ok to have affordable housing as long as it’s hidden? The “unrich” in Princeton are already in the northern most part of the town (Griggs Farm, the Village).

  4. By all means, develop the Lanwin property, if you think Princeton needs more McMansions, more developer greed, more environmental destruction, and more callous exploitation of the minority poor through one of the most egregious examples of redlining and warehousing that this town has ever seen. What person of decency and conscience wouldn’t want to save the last open portion of the fragile Princeton Ridge? Princeton planning boards have turned down development schemes for this hilltop for 60 years, always for the same reason: the land won’t support it. Let’s hope they keep to precedent and reject this shocking site plan as well.

  5. The owners of the Lanwin tract are already rich beyond the dreams of avarice. They should have the decency to donate this irreplaceable keystone property to the town for public open space. Call it Bryce Thompson Park, why not? Just don’t fragment Princeton’s largest green space by shoving thirty McMansions onto the last undeveloped bit of the rare and fragile Princeton Ridge. And why exactly is the last resident registered to vote at that address—725 Herrontown Road—in fact an employee of Harborside in Alameda, CA, the nation’s largest cannabis dispensary? The Planning Board should really be certain what they’re approving when they vote on that Lanwin site plan.

  6. The hearing on the development of the Lanwin tract–90 beautiful, ecologically-crucial acres, the last unbuilt section of the Princeton Ridge–will be Thursday, October 10, at 7:30 pm in the Municipal Building. If you care about the environmental health of our town, or if you oppose continued McMansionization, please come to the meeting and let the Planning Board hear your concerns.

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