Lanwin Development Corp. revises subdivision application


Princeton still proposes to purchase Lanwin tract with support from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres program

The Princeton Planning Board plans to hear a revised application on Lanwin Development Corp.’s proposed 29-lot subdivision on Sept. 16.

The board was set to hold the latest in a series of public hearings on the application at its July 6 meeting, but it was postponed because of a technical issue over the filing of a revised site plan.

Lanwin Development Corp. submitted their revised site plan on June 29, which was less than 10 days before the July 6 meeting. Applicants are required to submit all documents, including any revisions, at least 10 days in advance of a scheduled public hearing.

The revised site plan shows a 17-lot subdivision on the entire 90-acre parcel. The applicant has been seeking 29 building lots in a cluster development, which means only a 23-acre portion of the tract would be developed. The remaining 67 acres would be preserved as open space.

The revised site plan, which showed a conventional development of the entire 90-acre tract, was filed as a basis for the proposed cluster development plan, officials said.

The Lanwin Development Corp. tract is bordered by Mount Lucas Road, Herrontown Road, Herrtontown Lane and Montgomery Township. It is near the municipally-owned Herrontown Woods and Autumn Hill Reservation parks, officials said.

Meanwhile, Princeton officials submitted a $1.6 million grant application to the Mercer County Open Space Assistance program toward a proposed purchase of the Lanwin Development Corp. tract.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres program has already approved $2.5 million for use by the town and its nonprofit partners to buy the property, according to a May 15 memorandum to the Princeton Council from Cindy Taylor, Princeton’s open space manager.

The pending application is the most recent in a series of proposed developments for the property, none of which have been approved by the Planning Board.

Previous applications have included luxury housing developments, a country club, light industry, a shopping center and an elementary school, according to Ann Matthews, who lives on Herrontown Lane.

Matthews said the Lanwin Tract is adjacent to the Herrontown Woods and Autumn Hill Reservation preserved properties, which forms the last great forest in Princeton.

The Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS) favors preserving the Lanwin Tract, which contains a significant amount of forest. It opposes the fragmentation of forests for development.

FOPOS sees the preservation of the 90-acre parcel as part of the town’s “emerald necklace,” which links preserved open spaces in the town, said Wendy Mager, president of FOPOS.

The 90-acre Lanwin Tract and adjacent lands to the south were also part of New Jersey’s first orphanage, said Matthews. The Herrontown Lane resident researched the tract and nearby properties.

The Mount Lucas Orphans and Guardians Institute was founded by Princeton reformers and abolitionists in 1842, she said. It was chartered by the State Legislature in 1845.

The orphanage was the first one in the United States to shelter children of all genders and races, Matthews said.

But in testimony at a previous public hearing on the Lanwin Development Corp. application, consultant Randy Kertes testified that his research revealed that the orphanage and the subsequent Princeton Township “poor house” were nearby – but not on the Lanwin Development Corp. property.

The former Princeton Township acquired the land in 1866 after the orphanage closed, said Kertes, who represented the developer. The poor house was created for the indigent poor, the elderly and the physically and mentally disabled, he said. It also sheltered unwed mothers and their children.