The Governing Body of the town of Princeton will consider an ordinance on Monday night (March 11, 2019) to create a new affordable housing zone at the intersection of Mt Lucas Road and Herrontown Road. The proposed ordinance would re-zone a 3-acre parcel to allow construction of up to 65 units of medium-density, multi-family affordable housing. It is not clear at this time how construction of affordable housing at this site would be funded. The site appears to be the former home of the SAVE animal shelter, which was vacated in 2015. The neighboring sites include homes on Old Orchard Lane, an office park on Herrontown Road, and the Acorn Glen assisted-living community.
The proposed ordinance (2019-10) would create something called the “AH-3 zone”. The AJ-3 zone would have specific rules, which apply only to this site. Building heights of up to 45-ft would be permitted, allowing 3-4 story buildings. No market-rate housing would be allowed. Instead, only affordable housing could be built, which would help the town meet its long-running effort to conform to state fair housing laws. Interestingly, the proposed zoning would have a much lower requirement for off-street parking than is typical for the rest of the town: only 1.1 parking spaces would be required per unit. Car access to the site would be from Herrontown Road.
The new affordable housing zone is very close to the town line, in an area which has previously been used mostly for services and commercial uses. The ‘Walk Score’ for the site is just 15 out of 100, considered ‘car-dependent’. This fits the recent history of affordable housing construction in Princeton, which has concentrated low-income housing at car-dependent sites on the edge of town. Palmer Square in downtown Princeton is 3.0 miles away, corresponding to a 1-hour walk. One bus route (NJ Transit 605 route) links the site with downtown Princeton at a frequency of approximately once an hour.
According to a separate development proposal currently under consideration by the Princeton Planning Board, a second three-acre site in this neighborhood could be made available for affordable housing in the near future. A proposed sub-division of the so-called ‘Lanwin’ tract would create another 3-acre affordable housing site on the opposite side of Mt Lucas Road, adjacent to Scarlet Oak Drive.