CRANBURY – Four candidates are running for two, three-year term open seats on the Township Committee in the general election in November.
Democratic candidates Lisa Knierim and current Mayor Barbara Rogers will face Republican candidates Committeewoman Evelyn Spann and Barbara Wright for the seats on the governing body on Nov. 8.
Knierim has been a Cranbury resident for seven years.
Occupation: Chief Development Officer, Porland.
Community service: Volunteer for anything and everything in Cranbury – Cranbury Day, Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), various school functions, Stream Clean Up, Skeet’s Food Pantry.
Public service: Vice chair of EDAC (Economic Development Advisory Committee) for Cranbury, member of the Cranbury Business Association.
Rogers has been a Cranbury resident for 25 years.
Community service: Served on the Environmental Commission for 16 years – six as chairperson; a walking tour guide for the Cranbury Historic and Preservation Society; led the Green Team; a board member of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions; currently part of the Mayors Wellness Campaign team; and recently led her second Mayor’s Walk to School Day to encourage kids to focus on safety and health.
Public service: Township Committee member since 2020; current mayor
Spann has been a Cranbury resident for 20 years.
Occupation: Early in her career, she was an adhesives and sealants chemist for the automotive and architectural industries.
Community service: Community service began in Australia, where she co-founded a playgroup, which is still meeting 30 years later; in Paris, she became Welcome Committee director for the American School of Paris; in Ohio, she was vice president of the local YMCA; has taught CCD, supported play productions, coached field hockey, and initiated an annual block party for her street.
Public service: Township Committee member since 2020; serves on the Planning, Development Review Committee, Traffic and Safety Committee; Liaison to Zoning Board, Historic Preservation Commission, Municipal Alliance, and the Environmental Commission. Prior to serving on the Township Committee, she served four terms – 11 years – on the Cranbury Board of Education as Princeton liaison, send receive signing, and also served as facilities chair [overseeing] sports field irrigation and tennis court reconstruction.
Wright has been a Cranbury resident for 33 years.
Occupation: Retired as a professional registered nurse, PhD, FAAN (Fellows American Academy of Nursing); elected public official.
Community service: Golden Age Neighbors of Cranbury – president; Four Seasons of Cranbury – HOA (Homeowners Association) board – four years; NJ State Museum – Board of Trustees chairman; Christine T. Whitman Excellence in Public Service Series Board – chairman.
Public service: Served four terms – eight years – in the New Jersey Assembly for District 14. She also served as mayor of Plainsboro Township mayor and served on the West Windsor-Plainsboro Board of Education.
What initiative that has not yet been taken by the Township Committee or Planning/Zoning boards would you advocate for as a member of the Township Committee to help further address business growth in Cranbury?
Knierim: “I would like to make the warehouse community an active member of our community versus a passive. Having these companies become involved in restoration or beautification projects will continue to enhance Cranbury’s attractiveness for residents and new businesses.”
Rogers: “I am seeking a second term to continue the initiatives that I began, and I would like to see fully implemented. I led the creation of an interactive map to direct visitors to local businesses and allow more nimble advertising of business offerings. I’ve helped facilitate a meeting with the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce to work with them to promote Cranbury and would like to continue this partnership.”
If re-elected, she noted that her long-term vision is to better connect the downtown with other neighborhoods by implementing Cranbury’s bike network plan to attract foot traffic to local businesses and reduce vehicle traffic downtown; wanting to keep making strategic decisions; and identify initiatives that bring economic development as well as environmental benefits for all residents.
Spann: “The Township Committee passed several amended ordinances over the past three years following Master Plan recommendations including downtown parking and signage. These ordinances were amended by the Zoning Committee, which I chair, to help reduce obstacles new businesses face when coming to town. To help further growth, we need to support initiatives which promote patronage. Residents of Cranbury are the true lifeline for our small businesses.”
Wright: “While additional initiatives have been taken to support and sustain businesses in Cranbury, the Township Committee must continue to monitor the needs of the businesses and encourage residents to support those dependent upon customers.”
If elected, what are one or two options that would you want to pursue to address flooding on roadways? Do you feel Cranbury Township’s infrastructure is able to handle flooding overall?
Knierim: “I am very pleased that flood sites have been identified, but more important is identifying the root cause and triggers for our flooding challenges. Then, and only then can we be predictive and prescriptive on this issue.”
Rogers: “Storms have become more frequent and intense due to climate change which has caused increased flooding in Cranbury and other towns throughout New Jersey. As part of the Township Committee’s Flood Resiliency Subcommittee, I worked with the township to identify our flood prone areas and provided this list to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to help update outdated federal flood maps. We also requested our stormwater infrastructure be mapped.”
She added that waterways do not stop at Cranbury’s boundaries and flood resiliency requires working with surrounding municipalities.
Rogers said she would “continue to work on a regional/watershed approach to flooding, across town boundaries; push for engineering, nature-based and policy solutions that can help increase the town’s flood resiliency and improve our stormwater infrastructure; supports emergency rules proposed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection that would prevent new development in flood prone areas and strengthen our state’s stormwater mitigation rules.”
Spann: “If re-elected to the Township Committee the work continues. The next step for this ongoing issue is to work closely with [Middlesex] County; update them on engineering work and ordinances passed to improve drainage and then ask for County engineering to look again at the bridge. Given the increase of residents on the road over the next three years that might change things with the county.”
She further said, “To the question of township infrastructure; we have professionals in place, as always we have the ability to engage them or not.” Spann stressed that with the township working out an agreement with [developer] Toll Brothers, where the township would pay for drainage infrastructure as Toll Brothers added sewer lines and utilities to the road, would help with drainage.
She noted that the township had also passed a sump pump ordinance 132-1A, which requires all residents to assure that no stormwater or groundwater is discharged directly on to the street.
Wright: “Petty Road Bridge flooding and drainage have been challenges for many years with little relief in sight due to the increased residential development along the road. The bridge is the responsibility of Middlesex County. The County has not been willing to replace the bridge due to the extravagant cost (estimated at over $1 Million dollars).”
Wright further said, “therefore, the existing plan for Toll Brothers to reconstruct the road, and the township to add new and larger dry wells, will help to address the flooding and improve the poor condition of the road.”
In 2021, the Township Committee voted to opt out of all six business licenses for recreational cannabis. What is your stance on having a recreational cannabis retailer or any other license operating in the township? Would you be in favor of a recreational cannabis business operating in Cranbury or not?
Knierim: “I completely support the Township Committee’s decision and do not support cannabis business operating in Cranbury.”
Rogers: “Addressing the question of whether we should allow any cannabis business in town that requires an operating license requires multiple perspectives. That is why we have a five-person Township Committee. I make decisions based on a deliberate and transparent process weighing the advice from township professionals, board members and commissioners with subject expertise, and consideration of public comment.”
Rogers further said her goal is to listen and respect other people’s opinions and make fact-based decisions. Cranbury currently has medical cannabis grown and distributed in Cranbury, she said.
“Cranbury’s downtown is not zoned for retail cannabis and the proposed permanent rules by the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission are still being updated,” she said, noting she was in favor of opting out of the recreational cannabis licenses in 2021.
“I will continue to gather information, including public comments, for future consideration of these licenses on a case-by-case basis.”
Spann: “After a thorough legal briefing by the NJ League of Municipalities when the Cannabis law was passed, it was obvious to me at least, that there were more questions than answers surrounding how the law would be implemented. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission had not even met, and all municipalities had an August deadline to accept licenses for five years or ‘Opt Out.'”
She added that pressing pause by hitting the “Opt Out” button, ironically gave the township the most options. Citing opinions heard by Cranbury’s various boards and commissions and a signed petition by residents to opt out, Spann said, “Could we fold in recreational licenses and create new revenue, possibly, but I would strongly advise against it. I do not see any compelling reason under any circumstances to add any recreational license to Cranbury. It’s a nonstarter. It is clearly not what the town wants.”
Wright: “The Township Committee denied any of the licenses created by the NJ Cannabis law and regulations. Since Cranbury has been the location for a medical marijuana facility for many years, I agree that no other Cannabis licenses are needed at this time.”