MCAR Municipal Spotlight: July 2018
 
Lawrence Mayor Christopher Bobbitt Meets with MCAR Legislative Committee
In June, Lawrence Mayor Chris Bobbitt met with members of MCAR’s Legislative Committee as part of the Association’s on-going effort to establish productive, working relationships with local officials throughout the County. At the meeting, Mayor Bobbitt provided an update on several redevelopment projects taking place throughout the Township that will improve shopping and recreational amenities.
 
Mayor Bobbitt also addressed the on-going issues with Trenton WaterWorks, which provides water to a portion of residents in Lawrence. He is encouraging residents to sign up for Nixle alerts, so they can receive timely updates should any water quality issues arise. He assured the members that his Administration is doing everything possible to keep residents apprised of the situation and that the health and safety of residents is his priority.
 
The Mayor expressed his desire to work with the Legislative Committee to make Lawrence as marketable as possible. To that end, he is amenable to reviewing the Township’s sign ordinance to make it easier for realtors to market open houses. If you have any suggestions for the Mayor, please send your feedback to MCAR’s Anna Kagan at akagan@mercerrealtors.com and it will be shared with the Township.
 
Traffic Study Aims to Improve Safety on Ewing’s Parkway Avenue
Mercer County and the New Jersey Department of Transportation are examining ways to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers on Parkway Avenue (County Route 634) in Ewing and Trenton. NJDOT is funding the concept development study with funds from the Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program.
 
One of the changes under consideration is a “road diet” for the corridor, which would reduce the number of through travel lanes from four to two, with a center left-turn lane and wide shoulders. This would create room on the road for bicyclists and shortens crossing distances for pedestrians. Mercer County has already partially dieted one segment of Parkway Avenue to create a more urban street in Ewing’s Parkway Avenue Redevelopment Area around the old GM factory site, and another segment to improve pedestrian safety near Ewing High School and for the many lunchtime walkers from the NJDOT headquarters.
 
The traffic study is also exploring adding modern roundabouts to the project in various locations along the corridor. For more information on the project, contact Matthew Lawson, Mercer County Principal Transportation Planner at mlawson@mercercounty.org or 609-989-6551.
 
Trenton-Mercer Airport Updated Master Plan Accepted by Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has accepted Trenton-Mercer Airport’s updated Master Plan and approved its Airport Layout Plan for airspace and design standards. This is the first update to the plan in 20 years.
 
The FAA does not formally approve the Master Plan because it is considered a local policy or guidance document, so the agency’s approval does not provide an automatic green light to proceed with a recommended construction project. Rather, it means that the FAA has no safety concerns related to the Master Plan and that it conforms to FAA standards. Construction at the airport will need local approval.
 
The airport is now positioned to begin implementation of projects identified in the new Airport Layout Plan which focus on three main areas:
Development of a modern air carrier terminal to meet the existing demands and allow for anticipated growth at the airport;
Providing development opportunities within underutilized spaces on airport property for general aviation growth;
Continuing with a program of taxiway and runway resurfacing and lighting upgrades to address facilities that have exceeded their design life cycles.
 
For more information about the Airport Master Plan, please visit the airport section of Mercer County’s website at  mercercounty.org .
 
Mercer County Plans Intersection Improvements on Hamilton Avenue
Mercer County is planning signal upgrades and operational improvements on Hamilton Avenue at the intersection with Liberty Street and with Kuser Road and Ward Avenue. A few years ago, the county installed a traffic light where Liberty comes into Hamilton at an angle, but it has not helped ease traffic as anticipated. The recommendation now is to make Liberty Street one-way out, right-turn only onto Hamilton. Left turns from Hamilton to Liberty will be pushed south to Johnston Avenue, where a new signal will be installed. If approved, construction would begin in summer 2019. For more information on the project, contact Matthew Lawson, Mercer County principal transportation planner, at mlawson@mercercounty.org or 609-989-6551.
 
Hamilton Township & New Jersey Conservation Foundation Preserve 64-acre Farm
Hamilton Township officials and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation recently teamed up to help save one of Hamilton’s few remaining active farms. For years, a nearly 64-acre Merrick Road property was owned by Anna Lord and was actively farmed by Hamilton resident Scott Ellis. However, after Lord passed away, her estate looked to sell the farm, which was being targeted for residential development.
 
When the New Jersey Conservation Foundation — which since 1960 has helped save over 125,000 acres of land across the state — noticed that the property was up for sale, the nonprofit organization approached Hamilton officials about preserving the farm. Thanks to the joint effort, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation was able to negotiate a purchase price of $1,052,513; and Hamilton Township was able to use its open space trust to fund the acquisition. To help subsidize the cost of the open space purchase, Hamilton secured a $500,000 grant from the Mercer County Open Space fund and is also seeking New Jersey Green Acres program funding that could reimburse the remaining costs.
 
Lawrence Shopping Center to Lose Acme
On July 10, Acme announced it will be closing its store in the Lawrence Shopping Center at the end of August. The shopping center, which occupies 47 acres fronting Business Route 1 South, has been struggling in recent years. More than half of the center’s 41 sites are vacant, including several pad sites and a former CVS location that is located next to the Acme.
 
JJ Operating Real Estate Investments bought the Lawrence Shopping Center in May 2017, promising to invest $5 million into capital improvements to renovate and update the look of the center. The work on the site recently got underway, which the Township is hopeful will draw in new investment.
 
Princeton Council Votes to Acquire 142-acre Herrontown Woods Aboretum
On July 9, the Princeton Council voted to acquire Herrontown Woods Arboretum, a 142-acre natural area on Snowden Lane, from Mercer County in a deal for $1. Last year, the town and the county announced they had a deal for Princeton to obtain the property. As part of the agreement, the county will provide the town $100,000 in case any of the old structures on the land have to be torn down. The Mercer County freeholders still have to formally act to approve the sale, a step expected in August.
 
Princeton University Has Agreed to Wait Until 2032 to Develop Springdale Golf Course
Princeton University has agreed to wait until 2032 at the earliest before it can develop the university-owned Springdale golf course. The licensing agreement Princeton has with the Springdale Golf Club runs through 2036, but there is an early termination clause that lets Nassau Hall out of the deal. Based on the old terms, Princeton had the ability, starting in 2023, to notify the club it would opt out early, provide three years notice, and take control of the land starting in January 2027. The club had been discussing with the university for several months about the agreement.
 
Parking in Princeton Expected to Go High-Tech
Princeton will soon be replacing old parking meters with modern equipment and a mobile app will be rolled out that will enable users to pay for parking and obtain digital parking permits. The app will monitor how much time patrons have left on their meter and give merchants the ability to validate parking for their customers. The app will also have a “wallet,” so users can add money to it and transfer a balance from their smart card, the municipal parking card that is being phased out. The installation of so-called “smart” meters and multi-pay stations will accept payment by coin, credit card or the app. Next, officials are expected to examine parking fees and parking time limits to ensure greater turnover and availability of on-street parking spaces.
 
  
Princeton School District to Pose Two-Question Referendum to Voters
The Princeton Board of Education has decided to put forth a two-question referendum to voters in November for construction and renovation improvements to the district’s school. The first question must pass in order for the second question to pass, at a total cost just under $130M.
Question No. 1 would include improvements at all the elementary schools; construction of a new 5/6 school at Valley Road; the purchase of property at Thanet Road for central administration, transportation, and maintenance; security improvements; HVAC and other infrastructure improvements; an athletic field at Valley Road; a few additional high school classrooms; a second floor over the high school fitness center; and renovations to the guidance area — at a projected cost of $82,528,490.
Question No. 2 would include the balance of the high school expansion, an additional high school athletic field, and additional high school upgrades — at a projected cost of $47,086,435.
West Windsor Planning Board Approves 443-unit Woodstone Apartment Complex
Last month, the West Windsor Planning Board approved a 443-unit luxury apartment complex on a 23-acre plot along Canal Pointe Boulevard near MarketFair. The next step for developers, Woodstone at West Windsor LLC (a partnership between Fieldstone Properties and Woodmont Properties), is to file a construction permit, with no need to present to the full council. Construction is expected to begin next spring.
 
Most of the apartments will be two-bedroom, making up 290 of the 443 units. There will also be 114 one-bedroom apartments, while the remaining 29 apartments will be three-bedroom. 89 units will be designated as affordable housing.
 
Reed Gusciora Sworn in as New Trenton Mayor
On July 1, Reed Gusciora who previously served in the New Jersey General Assembly since 1996, was sworn in as the new Mayor of Trenton. MCAR’s Legislative Committee plans to meet with the new Mayor in the fall to outline issues of importance to the realtor community. In the meantime, the following is a list of the members of the Mayor’s transition team who will be busy this summer working with the mayor to organize priorities for the Capital City:
 
Mercer County Approves Small Business Set-Aside Ordinance
On July 12, the Mercer County Freeholder Board approved a new Set-Aside Ordinance that would make it easier for qualified minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses to contract with the County and provide access to $70 million in procurement. For more information about the program, visit http://www.mercercounty.org/Home/Components/News/News/5937/317