Princeton Planning Board pushes Lanwin application to December meeting

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Princeon

Lanwin Development Corp., which is seeking permission to create 30 building lots on a 90.6-acre tract of land on the Princeton Ridge, will have to wait until December to find out if the Princeton Planning Board will approve its request.

The Planning Board ran out of time to listen to additional testimony at its Oct. 10 meeting. The Planning Board set the next public hearing for Dec. 5. It will be the sixth in a series of public hearings on the application that began in April.

Meanwhile, the Oct. 10 public hearing was focused on whether the proposed development at 725 and 823 Herrontown Road and 915 Mount Lucas Road impinges on two potentially historic sites – the former Mount Lucas Asylum/Orphanage and the Princeton Township poor house.

Consultant Randy Kertes testified that the proposed development is not located on those sites, based on his review of 1849 and 1875 historic maps, as well as historic records such as property deeds.

The 1849 and 1875 maps of Mercer County show the Mount Lucas Asylum and the Princeton Township poor house as being near by, but not on the Lanwin Development Corp. property, Kertes said.

The orphanage/asylum was in place between approximately 1841 and 1861, Kertes said. Princeton Township subsequently acquired the site for its “poor house” for the indigent poor, the elderly, the physically and mentally disabled, and unwed mothers and their children.

Princeton Township acquired the land in 1866 and sold it in 1926, Kertes said. He said his research of the property deeds and historical records made it “quite clear” that Lanwin’s 90.6-acre tract is not the site of the asylum/orphanage or the poor house.

But attorney Bruce Afran, who represents objectors to the development, disagreed.

Afran pointed to the 1849 map, on which Kertes had circled “Mount Lucas Asylum.” The proposed development was noted in a yellow, squared-off box, which Afran said “potentially intrudes” into the orphanage and poor house sites.

Kertes, who disagreed, said Afran was reaching.

Princeton Township was never mentioned in the deeds that follow changes in the ownership of the Lanwin Development Corp. property, Kertes said.

Lanwin Development Corp. is seeking preliminary and final site plan approval for the 90.6-acre property. It is bordered by Herrontown Road, Herrontown Lane and Mount Lucas Road in Princeton, and by the Montgomery Walk townhouse development in Montgomery Township.

The applicant has proposed subdividing the land into 30 building lots of about a half-acre each. A three acre lot will be set aside on Mount Lucas Road to be dedicated for affordable housing.

The houses will be built on about 18.5 acres of land that had been cleared for farming. The remainder of the tract – about 67.4 acres – would remain as open space.

The applicant could have applied for permission to develop 20 building lots, with minimum lot sizes of four acres each, but it would have consumed most of the 90.6-acre tract.

Instead, the applicant chose to use the cluster option. The cluster subdivision design avoids disturbing major portions of the environmentally sensitive areas, preserving it for open space.

Princeton’s zoning ordinance allows for density bonuses for providing more than 70% of a parcel as common open space; for providing more than 1,000 linear feet of walking paths; and for dedicating the three acre parcel on Mount Lucas Road for affordable housing.

As a result, the developer can create the additional 10 building lots over the 20 building lots that could have been created under a conventional subdivision plan.