Corrections or additions?

This article was prepared for the

December 19, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights

reserved.

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

cutting

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

Princeton

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

environmentally

constrained area and donate it to Friends of West Windsor Open Space.

Miller contends that would increase the allowable density on the

entire

site.

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

things

down," says Roeder. "That didn’t work. Then we passed the timed

growth ordinance and the courts shot it down. The only choice is

downzoning."

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

development."

Opponents of the ordinance say it would circumvent the planning

process.

The planning board is currently reviewing the master plan, has already

settled on a preliminary density of 21 percent at Cyanamid and

Sarnoff,

and will resume its review in February.

Calling the ordinance "horrible," Morgan points to the

financial

implications for the taxpayer. "Both procedurally and

substance-wise

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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