Borough Council members had many questions regarding the proposed arts distict zoning, including the height permitted, setbacks, and permission as of right for parking garages that could be as high as 100 feet.   Concerns were also expressed about the proposed relocation of the Dinky.   Bob Durkee explained that the relocation is being done to allow a new road to be built into the Lot 7 parking garage.  

The University, represented by a large crowd of professionals, pushed for starting the process by allowing the proposed ordinance to move forward. Mayor Mildred T. opened the hearing and statements were made by the small audience – Anita Garoniak spoke during the earlier public presentation portion about the the growing petition appearing in March 5th Town Topics. Two people urged the Council to introduce the arts zoning,  including a women who runs walking tours.  Many questions posed by Council members were left unanswered.     Staff members argued that problems with the ordinance could be fixed by the Planning Board or resolved later when it comes back to Council.

In the end, the Council voted anyway to introduce the ordinance in spite of what seemed to be strong reservations by some of its members.    It now goes to the Planning Board.  The Board will be asked to review it and to determine whether it is consistent with the Master Plan and land use objectives.  The public was told that the  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would come to Borough Council next week before the Planning Board begins to look at the ordinance.  The Memorandum of Understanding sets forth a proposed agreement about transit improvements if the Dinky is moved.

One Council member noted that the Arts project can be built without moving the Dinky and suggested  setting up a special transit zone along the Dinky right of way to preserve the right of way for rail transist.  In the meantime, a Princeton alum (Posner ’77)(see linked story)  has proposed that Council purchase the Dinky right of way and create a public/private partnership to put the train service on a surer footing.  Stay tuned. 

The next milestone is the MOU to be presented at next week’s Borough Council Meeting – Tuesday, May 10th at 7:30pm.

Besides challenges regarding proposals related to use, bulk, building height, setbacks, design guidelines, circulation, parking, etc. as provided in the proposed ordinance, we did learn a tidbit – the tracks will have to be ripped up and regraded further out than the new station and relaid because the slope at the new station site will have to be flattened.

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