PRINCETON: AvalonBay won’t let Mayor Lempert near a pair of scissors for development’s ribbon-cutting

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Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert.

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Mayor Liz Lempert was snubbed by AvalonBay, who is scheduled to have a grand opening at its Witherspoon Street development Monday afternoon.
“I was not invited,” she told reporters at her press conference earlier in the day and was unaware of the 4 p.m. event.
Mayor Lempert, who usually attends ceremonial ribbon-cutting services when stores or businesses open in town, sought to add humor to the situation.
“Maybe they didn’t trust me with a pair of scissors,” she said.
Ronald S. Ladell, the Avalon senior vice president who shepherded the 280-development to approval through the municipal planning board, could not be reached for comment Monday.
But in the words of one Princeton official Monday, there is “serious” bad blood between the town and AvalonBay, two sides that find themselves in litigation.
“They hate us,” said Councilwoman Jo S. Butler, who added that she was invited and planned to attend the event.
The road to the development, which is not yet finalized, saw the town and AvalonBay fight in court, in a legal battle that still is not finished.
“I see it as the governing body doing every single thing in our power to make sure that that was going to be a safe development and the best development that we could have built within the constraints of what we were facing,” Mayor Lempert said. “We were not combative on our side.”