By the end of 2007, Plainsboro had seen construction on the new library begin and the creation of a redevelopment plan for the former FMC site — two of the biggest projects — among other changes in this year of reorganization.
And those two projects will remain on the agenda in 2008, along with two deals for final open space parcels in the township, new affordable housing requirements recently issued by the state Council on Affordable Housing, and plan endorsement through the state Department of Community Affairs’ Office of Smart Growth, said Mayor Peter Cantu, during the January 2 reorganization meeting, during which he was selected as mayor by the Township Committee for his 28th year.
“It’s been a year where we have had a lot of change in Plainsboro Township, and I’m pleased that we moved forward,” Cantu said.
The mayor highlighted other accomplishments during 2007, including maintaining the township’s AAA bond rating and its tax collection rate of 99.74 percent — one of the highest in the state. In addition, the township saw its 11th year of involvement in a joint purchasing venture with neighboring communities and school districts, new businesses in the Village Center, and $93,"000 in grants for recreation programs for individuals with disabilities.
One big employer in the township, pharmaceutical manufacturer Novo Nordisk, also decided to expand its facilities within the township, Cantu said. “It’s a very important industry and business to us.”
Township Administrator Bob Sheehan said the company is in its first steps in expansion, which includes the occupancy of a vacant building on Route 1 across the from its current office on College Road West just south of Forrestal Village, which has already been approved. “There is the possibility they will build additional buildings,” Sheehan said.
Other highlights include $178,"000 in grants the police department nabbed with its public safety efforts; continuation of the citizen police academy, which graduated 10 students this year; the graduation of the eighth class from the Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) program; the implementation of the internet-based program Plainsboro On Watch, which grew to include 404 members by year’s end; and work on a few capital projects, including on the Scotts Corner Road pedestrian improvement and the bikepath improvement on Plainsboro Road.
Road improvements also took place on Dey and Plainsboro roads, and Edgemere Avenue. The township also saw its ninth year with joint court operations with Cranbury, and a new records system for the clerk’s office, Cantu said.
Now, as township officials look to the challenges they face in the new year, the redevelopment of the FMC site on Route 1 is already one of the first things they are tackling. The plan for the 160-acre parcel, which calls for the University Medical Center at Princeton to build a new hospital, was introduced by the Township Committee during its meeting on January 9. A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, January 23, during which the Township Committee will see a presentation about the plan. The Plainsboro Planning Board reviewed and unanimously approved it in December.
Cantu also announced during the meeting that township officials are close to finalizing the completion of the open space plan with the acquisition of two additional parcels — the 80-acre Bulk Farm on Cranbury Neck Road and the 2.5-acre Schmidt Property on Plainsboro Road adjacent to the Princeton Meadows golf course.
“We believe that we are close to finalizing that, although it’s not completed,” Cantu said. “If we are successful, that will bring to a close all of the parcels in Plainsboro that have been identified for open space preservation. We will have preserved over 50 percent of our community to permanent open space and farmland preservation.” He also said Middlesex County officials have committed almost $3 million to help support the acquisition of those parcels.
There are still other challenges to face in 2008, the mayor added. “We have a major challenge, I believe, this year in understanding first of all the COAH requirements and the new rules from the state of New Jersey,” he said. “It’s going to present a significant challenge not just to Plainsboro, but to all communities who are developing in some way. We’re going to have to aggressively go forward to understand those and develop the plans on how to implement and meet those requirements.”
In 2008, the township will be working with the county and state on a new program that “would see Plainsboro become a custodian for a computer system that would provide access to shared services” and other information for municipalities in the county, and it would bring grant money to Plainsboro.
Township officials, in 2008, will also continue working with the DCA on the plan endorsement to get it perfected, Cantu said. They will also be working on transition planning for the library. “We also have a responsibility as we build a new library to look to the old library, which is going to be an asset to Plainsboro Township in it will provide much needed space for recreational and cultural activities.”
During the reorganization meeting, committeemen Ed Yates and Michael Weaver, who were re-elected in November, took the oath of office, and committeeman Neil Lewis was selected again as Deputy Mayor. The committee also presented plaques to former committeewoman Ginger Gold Schnitzer, who resigned in October to spend more time with her newborn, and Joseph Stonaker, former township attorney who retired in December after nearly 40 years with Plainsboro.
Michael Herbert, who is also township attorney for Princeton Borough and West Windsor, was hired to replace of Stonaker, with his first meeting beginning with the reorganization.