The Princeton Battlefield Society (PBS) has filed another court action in conjunction with its ongoing fight to keep the Institute for Advanced Study from developing housing on a parcel adjacent to the historic site.
PBS filed an appeal in state Superior Court on September 21 of a default approval of the Institute’s project by the Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission (DRCC), due to the lack of quorum.
The project calls for the construction of eight townhomes and seven single-family homes on a seven-acre portion of the tract, which is also adjacent to the Institute’s campus.
The Institute required an approval from the DRCC because a portion of the project is within stream corridors under the DRCC’s jurisdiction. The project was approved by default because there are currently only four members on the board — short of a quorum. The DRRC had a 45-day period to approve the application, which expired on September 2.
“The problem is that the DRCC has several vacancies and there have been no recent new appointments by the governor,” said Jerald Hurwitz, PBS president.
According to PBS attorney Bruce Afran, no written decision was issued by the DRCC, and no one was allowed to present their cases for or against approval of the waiver. “By allowing for automatic approval, PBS was unable to present its concerns about wetlands that are located on the property, but were not reported to the Department of Environmental Protection.”
The action is the third filed by PBS since approval of the project earlier this year by the Princeton Regional Planning Board. The Princeton-based nonprofit group has opposed the project since it was originally presented to the planning board in 2003.
The society filed an appeal on July 20 of the planning board’s March approval of the development. According Afran, the appeal claims that the board’s approval violates zoning limitations outlined in a 1992 agreement between Princeton Township and the institute that prohibits cluster housing.
Opponents and some historians argue that the debated 21-acre parcel — an undeveloped property contiguous to the state park called Maxwell’s Field — was the center of General George Washington’s counterattack on the British during the Battle of Princeton.
In June, the National Trust for Historic Preservation joined with opponents of the project by naming the field to its annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
Institute for Advanced Study, Einstein Drive, Princeton 08540; 609-734-8000; fax, 609-924-8399. Robbert Dijkgraaf, director. www.ias.edu.