I am writing in opposition to the new Princeton Master Plan and the overdevelopment it mandates. The current group of developers, supported by our elected and appointed officials, has created the myth that Princeton is a blighted area in need of rescuing by profit-making businesses. This simply is not true. Far from being blighted, our town has the highest property values in Central New Jersey. Our community is rich in opportunities to pursue the arts, entertainment and spirituality. The organizations which are propelling overdevelopment are active in our community simply to make a profit and leave us to deal with the problems they create.
They are not creating massive buildings in order to promote affordable housing. The developers cannot legally obtain the approvals they need without allocating 20% of their new buildings to affordable housing. Again, they are motivated by their own profit-making goals, not what is best for the community. The new Master Plan is flawed for the following reasons.
1. It does not consider the impact of increased traffic and parking problems. Supposedly, the residents of these new buildings will be young, single people or older couples with no children. They will work from home and bike around town. Really? The work from home trend was born of necessity during covid and is waning. Many people (educators and medical professionals, for example) cannot work from home. Our existing problems will only become worse.
2. Unless the corporations which earn their profits by creating new buildings practice discrimination, it is not possible to limit renters to single professionals and childless couples. A one bedroom apartment can legally accommodate two people and a two bedroom apartment can accommodate four people – mom, dad and two children.
3. No matter how “green” or “sustainable” these new large buildings will be, they will be inhabited by human beings, who consume water, and produce sewage and trash. The damage that will be done to our environment is incalculable.
4. Even young, healthy, bike-riding people have illnesses, accidents or other emergencies which require the attention of our first responders and social services. We will all bear the cost of these necessary additional services.
5. The PILOT program which our municipal officials are so graciously offering to the developers will take badly needed funds away from our schools. Princeton is known for the quality of its schools. It is inconceivable that the additional residents will be childless. Our schools are under the double threat of substantial increased student populations without adequate revenue to educate them.
The information being offered around town, propelling overdevelopment while ignoring its costs, is provided by the profit-seeking developers and endorsed by our municipal officials. We need accurate information setting forth the benefits of overdevelopment (if any exist), while also realistically describing its costs. I urge everyone who values our community to say no to the new Master Plan and the overdevelopment it promotes until we are provided with a realistic assessment of its costs.
Maryann Witalec Keyes