December 11, 2019 Update:
We are pleased to announce that Princeton is close to reaching a settlement with Fair Share Housing on our affordable housing plan. If all goes as planned in finalizing the agreement, Council will be holding a special meeting on Wednesday, Dec 18th at 7:30 pm for a public presentation of the settlement agreement and a vote on the first set of items that Council will need to act on in the coming months.
Princeton has long been committed to building affordable housing, demonstrated by the many developments built throughout town, most recently the Avalon Bay development at the old hospital site and Merwick Stanworth, with over 100 affordable units between them. In our negotiations with Fair Share, we have pushed for a plan that meets our obligation while at the same time supporting the goals of economic diversity, adequate housing for our seniors, and development rooted in the smart growth principles of building in areas with access to transit, shopping, and jobs.
One of the most difficult aspects of pulling together this plan has been operating under the constraints of a legal process directed by the courts instead of an open planning process prescribed under regulations that should have been established by the state legislature.We have tried our best to protect the interests of the community by following the advice of legal counsel to keep negotiations confidential while communicating with the community as fully as possible under these constraints.
Much of the plan Council will be considering on the 18th reflects the draft plan presented to the public in May 2018. Princeton’s obligation remains the same at 753 affordable units required to be built between 1999 and 2025. We have already built 256 units for which we will receive credit. We are also eligible for a sizable number of bonus credits. One major addition to the May 2018 plan is the addition of the former SAVE animal shelter site, which will produce 64 affordable residences in an 100% affordable development. In addition, as has already been publicly announced, the town has been in discussions with Avalon Bay Communities, Inc. about development at Thanet Circle. There will also be some adjustments to the new housing component at the Shopping Center – a spot that is widely viewed as a promising location for housing since it is close to shopping, transit, and jobs.
The meeting on December 18th will be a significant milestone in our affordable housing planning process.However, it will not be the final step by any means. Assuming we reach a settlement, the next step will be a Fairness Hearing tentatively scheduled for February 7 to determine whether the terms of the settlement agreement, in the eyes of the Court, create a realistic opportunity for development of the court-mandated affordable housing units. Once the settlement is approved by the Court, the municipality will be given several months to adopt the related zoning ordinances and prepare other documentation to demonstrate compliance.
We want to thank the community for your patience as we worked to craft a plan that meets the important goals of adding diversity to our housing stock, providing adequate housing for our seniors, building in areas within walking distance of transit, shopping, and jobs, and energizing our local economy. We look forward to sharing the details of our progress with you on the 18th.
July 10, 2019 Update:
Princeton’s obligation remains the same at 753 affordable units. We had already built 256 homes for which we will receive credit. We are also eligible for a sizable number of bonus credits – the exact number of which will depend on the final specifications of our ultimate plan. As a result of our negotiations with Fair Share Housing Center,there have been a number of changes to the draft plan presented to the public back in May of 2018. Unfortunately, although we are close, we have not yet reached a final settlement and therefore, we are precluded from sharing details of those discussions or our proposed plan at this time. However, we continue to feel that it is important to be as open and transparent as possible. As has already been publicly discussed,one addition to the plan is the former SAVE site, which will produce 64 affordable homes in a 100% affordable development.
In addition, the town has been in discussions with Avalon Bay. The company has recently become the contract purchaser of the property on Thanet Circle. We are discussing a number of options for including affordable housing as part of any future development there.
We have also been in communication with the school district so we can jointly plan for impacts. We are exploring all options available to us to assemble a plan that meets our obligations while supporting the goals of economic diversity, adequate housing for our seniors, and development rooted in smart growth principles: building in areas with access to transit, shopping, and jobs.
We want to be as open as possible as our plans develop , without compromising any of our fiduciary and legal responsibilities. This plan has taken longer to get approved than anyone expected. We think we are finally closing in on a final plan. We will do our best to keep the public informed to the best of our ability in the weeks and months to come.
March 8, 2018 Update:
We are glad that a decision has been reached so that we can focus our time and dollars into creating opportunities for more affordable housing. Princeton has long been committed to building affordable housing and this commitment shows in the fact that we have already made significant progress in meeting the obligation set by the court through projects such as Avalon Bay, Merwick Stanworth and others. The obligation number set by Judge Jacobson is well within the range of what we were expecting, and we feel confident we will be able to present a plan to the court that meets that obligation, adds needed diversity, and energizes our local economy through smart growth planning.