Princeton Planning Board Tackles Development Project, Debates Affordable Housing and Infrastructure Concerns

The Princeton Planning Board recently convened to discuss a development project proposed by RB Homes LLC, featuring 30 residential units with six designated as affordable housing, and the construction of an access road to the Princeton shopping center. The multifaceted project, which includes preliminary and final major site plan approval with variances, sparked in-depth discussions on building design, affordable housing, traffic management, and green infrastructure. The board engaged with the developers, Toll Brothers, and various experts to address concerns related to the project’s impact on the community and surrounding environment.

The meeting’s focal point was the RB Homes LLC application, which sought preliminary and final major site plan approval for constructing a residential complex at 375 and Tune Road. The proposal included market rate buildings and triplexes for affordable units, necessitating relief related to building height, number of stories, and other zoning requirements. Developer Toll Brothers underscored their commitment to the project, emphasizing their industry experience and the project’s potential benefits.

A crucial concern for the board was the alignment of the affordable units’ design with the rest of the development. Board members urged the architects to upgrade the facade to avoid a “cheap” and “generic” appearance, stressing the need for aesthetically pleasing and consistent design throughout the community. The architects were tasked to consider the settlement agreement in their design process and were encouraged to collaborate with professionals to enhance the facade.

The proposed access road from Tune Road to the Princeton shopping center was another significant topic. The board assessed the road’s potential benefits against possible challenges, such as increased traffic flow and impact on neighborhood connectivity. Traffic calming measures were emphasized as essential to mitigate the development’s impact on nearby Grover Park and the broader community. Discussions also touched on the road’s role in alleviating congestion and providing convenient routes for residents and visitors.

Landscaping played a vital role in the project’s discussion, particularly regarding the relocation of two large Magnolia trees, which the board debated extensively. The necessity of moving these mature trees was questioned, with members advocating for their retention in their current location. The landscaping plan also covered details like courtyard pergolas, bike racks, and the selection of native trees and shrubs.

The board raised questions about the parking allocation behind the affordable buildings and the logistics of trash collection. There were concerns about the maneuverability of garbage trucks within the driveways and potential interference with pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The developers explained the deed restrictions and rules under the homeowners’ association (HOA) agreement for parking management, emphasizing that they had followed the recommendations of municipal professionals.

Green infrastructure and energy efficiency were also central to the discussions. The developer presented plans for high-efficiency gas systems, tankless hot water heaters, and energy star certified building components. However, the board debated the use of natural gas and the potential transition to electric systems for HVAC, encouraging the inclusion of recycled and renewable materials.

The affordable housing aspect of the project was scrutinized in terms of design, management, and ownership viability. The board explored the economic viability of selling affordable units, the size of these units, and the property’s maintenance, specifically the management of the buffer. There was also discussion on the ADA accessibility of the units, with the board questioning the accessibility and allocation of accessible parking spaces.

The project’s compliance with the New Jersey clean energy act program was highlighted as a positive development, with the board requesting further integration of recommendations from the Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC). Concerns about the impact on street parking due to restrictions on driveway parking were also addressed, with the architects providing clarity on the total parking spaces available on-site and on the street for visitors.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Mark Freda
Planning Board Officials:
Louise Wilson, Owen O’Donnell, David Cohen, Julie Capozzoli, Mia Sacks, Nat Bottigheimer, Fredi Pearlmutter, Alvin McGowen, Pallavi Nuka, John Taylor, Claudia Wilson Anderson, Kerry Philip (Planning Board Coordinator)

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