To the Editor:
Princeton citizens who want to help ensure that AvalonBay doesn’t submit a new application to build “AvalonPrinceton” (!) should contact Planning Board members right away.
On February 7, the Planning Board will adopt a Resolution that “memorializes” their 7-3 vote against AvalonBay (Board attorney Gerald Muller is drafting the Resolution). Current Board members who voted against AvalonBay (Marvin Reed, Bernie Miller, Gail Ullman, Wanda Gunning, and Jenny Crumiller) have full legal rights to modify any and all language in the Resolution so that it accurately reflects their positions.
Voting members should take care that the final Resolution banishes AvalonBay from Princeton---not simply, Princeton doesn’t like AvalonBay’s specific site plan, but more: Princeton doesn’t want any mark of AvalonBay here at all.
AvalonBay has shown they won’t partner with our community, no matter what the design. As Jenny Crumiller lamented about Avalon’s refusal to negotiate reasonably with the Borough’s ad hoc committee, “The overriding theme was, ‘AvalonBay is a brand and that’s what you get’” (Princeton Packet, December 20, 2012).
Here are other reasons why Planning Board members should make sure the Resolution closes the door on any attempt by AvalonBay to reapply.
Avalon refused to consider local retail stores, desired by many (“We don’t do retail in midrise developments”), and refused to participate in Princeton’s recycling and composting program (“We’re not in the composting business”). Avalon lags its competitors in sustainable building practices and rejected a push by 48.6% of their shareholders to commit resources to significant green measures; any building they did would be already “obsolete,” as Heidi Fichtenbaum noted (PB hearing, 12/19/12).
Avalon cannot be trusted. They tried to cover up difficulties with hospital site remediation—matters of public health. Their urban planner plagiarized work from their architect (who also misrepresented the size of the sliver of park by cropping the illustration). The Avalon team cheated in representing their open space, claiming as “theirs” portions of land they would not even own! Their architect deliberately misunderstood Borough Code so that he could falsely compare Avalon’s “superior” megablock to the existing hospital towers—and chose not to show the monolith in relation to neighborhood buildings so that no one could really grasp its gargantuan scale. Their “plan” for solid waste involved using both the garage and the Franklin Avenue service drive in ways not legally permitted by Borough Code.
Avalon’s legal representation was “barely legal.” Ron Ladell played both attorney and witness (an “inappropriate” straddling of roles). He tried to halt cross-questioning of their urban planner by the environmental attorney for Princeton Citizens (an unprofessional and almost malfeasant intervention). Attorney Studholme whispered advice to the urban planner while he was being cross-questioned by PCSN’s land-use attorney—virtually a forbidden practice.
With behavior like this, for over a year, who needs AvalonBay at all? They have squandered trust and credibility. Other developers will serve our community better. The Planning Board must insist that their Resolution fully reflects their outright opposition, and the community’s, to AvalonBay’s presence.