Three candidates vie for two Princeton Council seats

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Princeon

Princeton voters will have a choice of three candidates to fill two seats on the Princeton Council when they go to the polls on Nov. 5.

Democratic candidates Michelle Pirone Lambros and Mia Sacks, along with independent democratic coalition candidate Adam Bierman, are vying to fill the seats held by Princeton Council members Jenny Crumiller and Tim Quinn.

The term is for three years.

Bierman said his highest priority, if he is elected to the Princeton Council, is addressing affordable housing. He suggested that officials may have to reconsider zoning in some areas of town to allow more mixed-use developments and fewer single-family houses.

The town may be obligated to provide 753 affordable housing units, Bierman said. The actual number of units that would need to be built will be significantly more if they are built in what is termed an inclusionary development, in which 20% of the units would be set aside for affordable housing.

It may be possible to reduce the actual number of housing units to be built, through the construction of more rental units and group homes for the disabled, he said. Those housing units would receive additional credits that could be applied toward the tentative number of 753 affordable housing units, he said.

Bierman also said Princeton University could do more for the town. It could increase its voluntary payments, for example. The town should find projects on which the town and the university could accomplish through a partnership.

Pirone Lambros said she would focus on increasing commercial revenue and seeking a larger voluntary contribution from Princeton University in order to reduce the property tax burden on homeowners.

Becoming a more business-friendly town would help to increase revenue from commercial properties, she said. She suggested streamlining regulations that hinder the creation and success of new businesses, such as reducing signage requirements, reducing permit fees and also reducing the length of time that it takes to get a permit.

Pirone Lambros said Princeton University could contribute more money through its voluntary payments to the town. The town and the university could work together on projects, such as sharing renewable energy infrastructure and housing opportunities.

Addressing the housing issue, Pirone Lambros suggested changing the zoning regulations to allow for the creation of housing that is affordable. Revised zoning could encourage in-law suites, duplexes or multi-family buildings that would allow for flexible living arrangements and keep the town affordable for the middle class.

Sacks said she would like to focus on a comprehensive review and update of the town’s Master Plan to reflect the consolidated Princeton. She would like to include an Economic Development Element in the Master Plan.

Genuine, lasting economic health for the town requires planning for – and balancing – the needs of all sectors, Sacks said. This includes housing transportation and schools, as well as the central business district.

Sacks also said there is a need for more affordable housing for low- and middle-income households. She said she has been advocating for middle income housing, as well as changes to the zoning regulations to allow accessory dwelling units within a single-family house.

“The income from these units can help residents stay in their homes longer by offsetting rising taxes, and provide funds for property maintenance and improvement,” Sacks said.