Planning board review of ‘area in need of redevelopment’ designation for Princeton Shopping Center neighborhood postposed due to wrong Zoom information

An aerial view of the proposed area in need of redevelopment.

Dozens of frustrated residents tried to join the Princeton Planning Board’s public meeting on Zoom Thursday night only to receive a message on their screens that they had an invalid meeting ID for the meeting.

Because the wrong Zoom link was listed on the public notice for the meeting, the meeting was determined to be improperly noticed and was not held. The meeting has been postponed until later in the month and a new public notice must be issued.

Back in February, Princeton residents had trouble joining a Princeton Council Zoom meeting. Asked about the issue at the time, former administrator Marc Dashield told Planet Princeton the technical issue was out of the municipality’s control, because the municipality did not have its own Zoom account. He said the municipality uses Princeton University’s Zoom account because it is more robust and saves the town money. Asked Thursday whether the town is still using the university’s Zoom account, town officials didn’t know the answer. They said the town has been working to transition to its own Zoom account.

For the meeting that was scheduled for Thursday, planning board members and municipal staff members were slated to discuss whether the Princeton Shopping Center area should be designated an area in need of redevelopment. The 42.2-acre area that is part of the study includes the shopping center, a vacant parcel located between the shopping center and Terhune Road, Grover Park, vacant land, the former Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad building, and the two houses next to the building that PFARS purchased several years ago. AvalonBay has been selected by the shopping center owners as the developer to build housing on the south end of the shopping center site, an area that is currently a parking lot that borders the Clearview Avenue neighborhood.

Under New Jersey’s redevelopment law, a governing body has the power to initiate an investigation to determine whether an area is in need of redevelopment, to make a determination that an area is in need of redevelopment after an investigation and recommendation from the planning board, and adopt a redevelopment plan and carry out the redevelopment plan or create a redevelopment authority to carry out the plan.

The planning board has the power to conduct an investigation to determine whether an area is need of redevelopment and conduct a public hearing and make a recommendation to the governing body concerning the designation. The planning board can make recommendations concerning a redevelopment plan or prepare a redevelopment plan if so requested by the governing body.

The benefits of establishing an area in need of redevelopment include developing a plan that is specifically for an area or project and having the ability to select a redeveloper for the site and enter into contracts and agreements with the developer. A redevelopment authority can issue redevelopment area bonds to assist in financing the development of the site. The redevelopment authority can, but is not required to, provide long-term tax abatements on improvements to the site and may also create a payment in lieu of taxes program (PILOT) for the area. The PILOT money goes to the municipality. Unlike property taxes the developer would normally pay, none of the money goes to the public schools or the county. It all goes into municipal coffers, but governing bodies can make deals to give a percentage of the PILOT to the public schools and county.

At least one of the following criteria must be met in order for an area to be deemed an area in
need of redevelopment:

  • The generality of buildings are substandard, unsafe, unsanitary, dilapidated, or obsolescent, or are so lacking in light, air, or space, as to be conducive to unwholesome living or working conditions.
  • The discontinuance of the use of buildings previously used for commercial, manufacturing, or industrial purposes; the abandonment of such buildings; or the same being allowed to fall into so great a state of disrepair as to be untenantable.
  • Land that is owned by the municipality, the county, a local housing authority, redevelopment agency or redevelopment entity, or unimproved vacant land that has remained so for a period of ten years prior to adoption of the resolution, and that by reason of its location, remoteness, lack of means of access to developed sections or portions of the municipality, or topography, or nature of the soil, is not likely to be developed through the instrumentality of private capital.
  • Areas with buildings or improvements which, by reason of dilapidation, obsolescence, overcrowding, faulty arrangement or design, lack of ventilation, light and sanitary facilities, excessive land coverage, deleterious land use or obsolete layout, or any combination of these or other factors, are detrimental to the safety, health, morals, or welfare of the community.
  • A growing lack or total lack of proper utilization of areas caused by the condition of the title, diverse ownership of the real [property] properties therein or other similar conditions which impede land assemblage or discourage the undertaking of improvements, resulting in a stagnant [or] and [not fully productive] unproductive condition of land potentially useful and valuable for contributing to and serving the public health, safety and welfare, which condition is presumed to be having a negative social or economic impact or otherwise being detrimental to the safety, health, morals, or welfare of the surrounding area or the community in general.
  • Areas, in excess of five contiguous acres, whereon buildings or improvements have been destroyed, consumed by fire, demolished or altered by the action of storm, fire, cyclone, tornado, earthquake or other casualty in such a way that the aggregate assessed value of the area has been materially depreciated.
  • In any municipality in which an enterprise zone has been designated pursuant to the “New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zones Act,” the execution of the actions prescribed in that act for the adoption by the municipality and approval by the New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zone Authority of the zone development plan for the area of the enterprise zone is sufficient for the determination that the area is in need of redevelopment for the purpose of granting tax exemptions within the enterprise zone district, or the adoption of a tax abatement and exemption ordinance. The municipality is not allowed to utilize any other redevelopment powers within the urban enterprise zone unless the governing body and planning board have also taken the actions and fulfilled the requirements for determining that the area is in need of redevelopment or an area in need of rehabilitation and the municipal governing body has adopted a redevelopment plan ordinance including the area of the enterprise zone.
    8. The designation of the delineated area is consistent with smart growth planning principles adopted pursuant to law or regulation.

Planning board reports on the potential area in need of redevelopment designation for the shopping center area:—Area-in-Need-of-Redevelopment-North-Harrison-St-Properties—Report-PDF?bidId=


  1. So Princeton University is running the town’s meetings technology? Pretty sure this is not OK, and again, is this legal peeps? We all know this is the unofficial policy of the town, but the official nature of this is pretty surprising…

  2. Am I nuts or do none of the stated criteria apply to this site? If we are a town that is law-abiding, why is this resolution being considered?

  3. The only reasons given in the report for designating Grover Park, 8 Clearview, and 14 Clearview as part of the “Area in Need of Redevelopment” are that they are (1) “located in a state Planning Commission designated Regional Center in Planning Area 2.”, and (2) that it creates opportunities to plan comprehensively for the entire area. These two reasons, by the way, could conceivably apply to just about any property in Princeton, since nearly all of Princeton is part of the very same state Planning Commission designated Regional Center in Planning area 2:

  4. Criterion Number 8 appears to be a bit of a catch-all, so basically they can make anything a redevelopment zone by claiming that redevelopment is “consistent with smart growth principles”–which are in the eye of the beholder, one imagines.

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