Plainsboro Township Committee Candidates 2013

Plainsboro Candidates Answer League Questions

November 5, 2013 General Election Day

Polls will be open from 6am until 8pm

EDITOR'S NOTE: These are the verbatim responses of the candidates for Plainsboro Township Committee to questions presented by The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area in cooperation with The Princeton Packet. The candidates were allowed to vary the length of their answers to the three questions but were given a word limit for the total.

Candidates – Vote for two (three-year term)

David Bander (incumbent) – Democrat; Staff Representative at 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

Matthew Greenberg – Republican; Student at Rutgers Business School

Edmund C. Yates (incumbent) – Democrat; Senior Project Manager

What areas of potential cooperation might exist between Plainsboro and West Windsor, or other neighboring towns?

Mr. Bander:

Plainsboro is a leader in shared and cooperative services. These services currently include a joint municipal court system with Cranbury, purchasing health inspection services from Middlesex County, and of course sharing an award­winning school district with West Windsor. In addition, we are thoroughly involved in projects with West Windsor and other municipalities to reduce traffic congestion on Route 1. Through these efforts, Plainsboro has been able to effectively deliver services to our residents while keeping costs down.

Mr. Greenberg:

Areas of potential cooperation between Plainsboro and other surrounding towns include Animal Control and trash collection. With regard to animal control, Plainsboro is currently contracted with Helmetta which is very far away and provides inadequate service. Plainsboro should explore other options to provide this service with our neighbors to save money and improve service in the long run. Plainsboro Township does not currently provide trash collection services to its residents. Residents must now individually hire a trash contractor out of a number of companies that provide this service to Plainsboro. Plainsboro could competitively bid this service for the entire municipality, or with neighboring municipalities, and thus would be able to provide this service for a much lower cost. There would be added environmental and safety benefits of not have multiple sets of garbage trucks traveling on our streets every day.

Mr. Yates:

Plainsboro Township has been a leader in shared services for many years, long before shared services became a buzz word around the state. Plainsboro has been the lead purchaser in a county wide purchasing cooperative. Plainsboro currently has a shared service agreement with Cranbury Township for the municipal courts, public defender and prosecutor. Also Plainsboro has an agreement with Helmetta Township to share animal control duties and shares a health officer with Middlesex County. Plainsboro will continue to explore shared services where they make financial sense. An area that can be explored for potential savings is county wide emergency service dispatch duties.

The number of vacant stores in the Plainsboro Plaza shopping center has increased, including closure of the Super Fresh grocery store. What plans would you recommend to revitalize this shopping center?

Mr. Bander:

The Township Committee has been working with the new owners of Plainsboro Plaza to improve the center, and we have expressed our strong desire that they should vigorously pursue a new supermarket to replace Super Fresh. We have also advised the new owners that they should restructure the parking in Plainsboro Plaza, so that it is less fragmented and easier to navigate, and they should consider making cosmetic improvements to the facades of some of the buildings as well. The Township Committee strongly encourages these changes and we will work with the new owners to facilitate improvements to Plainsboro Plaza.

Mr. Greenberg:

To help revitalize the Plainsboro Plaza, the Township Committee should review its planning and zoning regulations to help eliminate regulations which may make it difficult for the new ownership to lease space. The review may show a number of unnecessary regulations that do nothing but discourage new businesses from entering Plainsboro. An example of such is the stringent regulations regarding signage which even the most respectable business owners have trouble following, found in code 101-158. The numerous petty fees facing business owners who wish to engage in business in Plainsboro are certainly not bringing more business here, either.

Mr. Yates:

The Plainsboro Plaza Center was mismanaged by the previous owners. This led to the current occupancy situation. The center has been recently sold to new owners who manage centers around the state. As liaison to planning and development, I and Mayor Pete Cantu have met with the new owners several times to discuss their plans to revitalize the center. Currently Township staff is working with the ownership to expedite the necessary permits to allow construction to begin. The plans include new facades on the building exterior, redesigned parking to allow customers to park closer to the stores, and a redesigned front entrance complete with a new signage package. I don’t want to raise anyone’s expectations but the new ownership has informed me that they are currently in discussions with several supermarket operators and feel confident that they will be able to attract a supermarket to the site.

Which do you consider the three most important challenges facing Plainsboro and how would you address them?

Mr. Bander:

As public officials, our most important responsibility is to be good stewards of public money. In Plainsboro we have achieved the lowest municipal tax rate and highest bond rating in Middlesex County through strong financial management, pursuing outside funding and cooperative agreements, and attracting major ratables. Ed Yates and I will diligently work to keep our tax rate low and our bond rating high.

Another responsibility is to keep Plainsboro a great place to live and work. Over time, we have achieved an appealing mixture of retail development, a community­focused Village Center, and an extensive network of parks and open space. This balance has led Plainsboro to be recognized as one of the state’s best­planned communities. Ed Yates and I will maintain this balance with meticulous oversight and careful management of our community plan.

Lastly, we must ensure that Plainsboro’s retail and business community remains strong. Plainsboro has had great success recently in attracting major businesses, but it is important that our retail stores can share in that success. Ed Yates and I will seek improvements in Plainsboro Plaza (as described in question 2) and we will strengthen our communication and relationships with local businesses.

Mr. Greenberg:

The biggest challenge facing Plainsboro is property taxes, but this can be easily fixed. If we increase the number of businesses in Plainsboro by easing unnecessary regulations, we would also increase our commercial tax revenue. This will in turn allow for a reduction in residential property taxes.

Another issue facing Plainsboro is the increasing amount of traffic. The Township Committee needs to review the causes of this increase, and to develop plans to address this problem.

The last challenge I want to address is the potential problems that might arise because of one party control in Plainsboro politics. For the past two decades, the democrats have been in total control of Plainsboro. I believe an independent voice and new ideas are needed on the Township Committee.

Mr. Yates:

Plainsboro is no longer a young and growing town it is now a maturing township and subsequently some of our infrastructure and assets are nearing the end of their life expectancy. The township committee realized this fact several years ago and instituted a long term master plan for infrastructure improvements, repairs, and or replacement. Several major improvements and replacements projects have begun or are completed, such as, the new library, the new recreation center and ongoing road improvements in numerous developments.

MISSION STATEMENT: The League of Women Voters®, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

The Princeton Area League seeks new members (men and women) from Kendall Park, Kingston, Montgomery, Plainsboro, Princeton, Rocky Hill, South Brunswick and West Windsor. Click here to become a member.