Corrections or additions?
This article was prepared for the
December 19, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights
Life in the Fast Lane
Another debate over downzoning has erupted in West
Windsor, but Sarnoff’s development plans — and the lucrative sale
of its front lawn to Princeton University — might be salvaged
by a decision from the township’s mayor.
West Windsor Council voted 3-0-1 on Monday, December 17, to introduce
an ordinance that would almost cut in half the allowable development
on both the Sarnoff and Cyanamid campuses, two of the most desirable
properties in central New Jersey. Claiming it would reduce traffic,
President Alison Miller, Jackie Alberts, and Rae Roeder support
the density from 30 percent to 18.
Sarnoff has proposed a 3 million-square-foot office complex on its
345 acres on Route 1 North. Sarnoff President Jim Carnes has said
that unless the property is zoned at 21 percent, the corporation would
have to seriously consider moving.
The downzoning would also likely kill a deal between Sarnoff and
University, which has agreed to purchase the corporation’s 90-acre
front lawn. "It would put a serious crimp in it," says Sarnoff
spokesman Thomas Lento. "Our deal with them is based on having
an approved General Development Plan." Sarnoff plans to submit
that application to the planning board in January.
Sarnoff’s next appearance before the planning board, scheduled for
Wednesday, December 19, will be an application to subdivide an
constrained area and donate it to Friends of West Windsor Open Space.
Miller contends that would increase the allowable density on the
The 640-acre American Cyanamid property on Route 1 at Quakerbridge
Road has no immediate development plans but its owner, American Home
Products, is trying to dispose of it.
The proposed ordinance is expected to be up for a public hearing and
vote in February. If battle lines remain the same, council members
Kristen Appelget and Charles Morgan would not support the ordinance, leaving
only three votes in favor. If West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh signs it, it
would be law. If he does not, supporters would lack the required 4-1
majority to override a veto, and the ordinance would be defeated.
"The township passed a slow growth referendum to try to slow
down," says Roeder. "That didn’t work. Then we passed the timed
growth ordinance and the courts shot it down. The only choice is
Says Hsueh: "We have to find out how Sarnoff’s plans are going
to impact the community in terms of open space preservation, mass
transit, and providing for affordable housing. It’s also important
to see what timeline they are planning for phasing in the
Opponents of the ordinance say it would circumvent the planning
The planning board is currently reviewing the master plan, has already
settled on a preliminary density of 21 percent at Cyanamid and
and will resume its review in February.
Calling the ordinance "horrible," Morgan points to the
implications for the taxpayer. "Both procedurally and
it’s really wrong. Members of council should not be writing zoning
ordinances while the master plan is being reviewed and still in flux."
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