West Windsor Township Council May 1999
1999 VOTERS GUIDE
NON-PARTISAN ELECTION INFORMATION
Vote Tuesday, May 11, 1999
CANDIDATES FOR WEST WINDSOR TOWNSHIP COUNCIL
The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area is a nonpartisan, non-profit volunteer organization which works to promote active, informed participation of all citizens in their government. The League provides nonpartisan information on public issues, and takes action on issues after member study and consensus. In publishing this material, the League neither endorses nor rejects the views of any candidate quoted.
All candidate information in this guide was compiled from candidates' responses to questionnaires. Replies are printed in the candidates' own words, without editing or verification. Due to space limitation, the candidates were given a word limit for replies. Incumbents are indicated with an asterisk (*).
Reprinting of this guide in part or in whole is not permissible without written permission of the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area.
Copyright 1999 by the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area
The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area submitted the following five questions to all candidates for West Windsor Township Council:
1. What strategies should West Windsor employ to control growth? Do you support capacity-based planning techniques as one of the strategies in controlling growth?
2. How should profits from the sale of liquor distribution license be used?
3. Do you support the proposed Millstone Bypass? What role does West Windsor have in regional transportation issues?
4. Do you support downzoning in large, undeveloped and non-sewered parcels of land? Please explain.
5. What is your opinion of appealing the Toll Case regarding the Estates at Princeton Junction?
CANDIDATES FOR WEST WINDSOR TOWNSHIP COUNCIL
Address: 110 Aspen Drive
Years of WW Residence: 10
Education: Masters Degree in Human Resources and Labor Relations from Rutgers University
Occupation: Realtor - Broker/Associate
Community Activities: Contributions to many West Windsor School and Kids Program Fundraisers. Also, participated in many homes sold in West Windsor.
Responses to Questions:
1. Downzoning is certainly needed for controlling growth in West Windsor. However, a carefully thought out plan is necessary to protect certain areas, and so to not excessively burden specific homeowners. Farm preservation and the purchase of open space should be aggressively pursued with the recent voters approval of open space tax. The negotiations with the land owners should be based on property values prior to the downzoning.
2. I believe the profits from the sale of the liquor license should immediately go to the residents of West Windsor in the form of a lower tax basis. Residents have endured only tax increases over the years, and have had no tax breaks. This can only create a much more favorable attitude and better moral when homeowners discuss their high property taxes. Or, my second suggestion for the use of the profits, is to spend it on senior citizen programs. This should fairly voted upon, and openly discussed and negotiated with the township senior's.
3. I am in favor of the Millstone Bypass. I believe this will relieve our township of the over burdened use of our roadways. However, I would like to STRESS some very important facts first. Before this Millstone Bypass is put into place, I feel our township government should press the State Department of Transportation to get involved, and adopt the project of a new Alexander Road bridge! Our residents should not be put through years of inconvenience while this Bypass is being constructed. If the Alexander Road bridge issue is addressed first, then we can feel more comfortable and safe while the Bypass is put into place.
4. I support downzoning on large undeveloped, unsecured parcels of land. However, the large landowners should not have to solely take the burden of this affect, should they decide to sell. The impact of downzoning is a technique to control the number of homes that may be built. This means that large land owners in West Windsor will suffer in the beginning, some loss of their property value. Although in the long run, the scarcity of land will eventually drive the price of the land back up in value. If West Windsor decides to purchase land, the price to be paid for such land should be based on the property values prior to downzoning.
5. Toll Brothers is not going away, they are here to stay but they must be negotiations to enable an amicable solution. I feel we should continue the litigation against Toll Brothers, but with an emphasis on negotiation.
Address: 215 South Mill Road
Years of WW Residence: 28 years
Education: West Windsor-Plainsboro High School; University of Notre Dame, B.A. Government, Concentration in Public Policy
Occupation: Financial Advisor, PaineWebber, Carnegie Center
Community Activities: Vice-Chair, West Windsor Recreation Commission; Member, West Windsor Open Space Preservation Task Force; Member, Princeton Corridor Rotary Club; Member, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School Futures Committee; Former Deacon, Dutch Neck Presbyterian Church; Former Coach, West Windsor Whalers Swim Team
Responses to Questions:
1. It is not enough for West Windsor to try to control growth. We need to look for ways to control and stop growth. West Windsor voters took the first important step towards doing this by passing the open space tax last year. Capacity-based planning techniques are useful when coupled with other planning tools as part of a comprehensive growth management program. West Windsor must also look to aggressively acquire open space, preserve farmland, and protect environmentally sensitive areas. In addition, West Windsor needs to take a lead in pushing for legislative reforms at the state level that would give communities the right to protect themselves from unrestrained residential development.
2. The sale of a liquor license is not a yearly event in West Windsor. As such, the proceeds from this sale should be put to use for the long-term well being of the community. Placing the proceeds from this sale in the 1999 township general operating budget lacks not only budgeting foresight, but would return nearly a third of the money to commercial taxpayers in the form of tax break. I feel that the funds would be better used by putting them towards the acquisition of open space or the downpayment for acquiring property for a new, and sorely needed, firehouse. These are both uses that would benefit residential taxpayers for many years to come.
3. I applaud the current township administration's attempts to work with neighboring townships to reach a Millstone Bypass solution that meets the needs and concerns of everyone affected. It is important to remember traffic does not stop or start at the West Windsor Township borders. Because of this, we must continue to work with the state, county, and surrounding communities to find the best regional solutions to traffic problems, with a special consideration to the impact these decisions will have upon West Windsor. We must always keep a special eye towards the safety of our roadways and intersections, and to keeping as much traffic as possible away from our residential neighborhoods.
4. In the normal planning process in West Windsor, any downzoning ordinance would have had input from the Planning Board, township attorney, planning professionals, and the public. Instead, the current downzoning ordinance (Ordinance 98-10, the "Miller Ordinance") was implemented with blatant disregard for these legitimate planning channels. And once again West Windsor has ended up in court as a result. Any downzoning in West Windsor needs to be part of a logical plan for development using a variety of methods such as farmland preservation, open space acquisition, and density transfers.
5. We must continue to pursue the appeals process to the fullest extent possible. However, we must not neglect pursuing opportunities to negotiate with Toll for concessions regarding sewers, road configurations and road widths, drainage, and open space. For the past six years West Windsor has pursued an all or nothing "Stop Toll" strategy with no consideration for the possibility (and now probability) that the township would lose this case in the courts. What has this strategy left us with? More single family homes, townhouses, and apartments and absolutely no control over the configuration of the development. The incumbents claim a victory in having "saved" the town six years of school taxes.... a hollow victory given the permanent burden that has been left for this community as a result of their tactics.
Address: 5 Farmington Court
Years of WW Residence: 14 years
Education: BS in Business, Major- Economics and Marketing, Graduate of Ashland University Occupation: Owner of Carnevale Disposal and Recycling Company; Owner of Windsor Compost Company
Community Activities: Former member, West Windsor Planning Board; Member, Site Plan Review Advisory Board; Coach, West Windsor travel and recreational sports; Member of St. David's Church; Member of Dutch Neck P.T.A.; Volunteer fund raiser, Special Olympics, The Cherry Tree Club
Responses to Questions:
1. Purchase open space, farm land preservation, and zoning. Yes, I support a legitimate time growth ordinance which has legislative backing.
2. I would utilize a portion of the profit to fund the construction of a traffic light at Village and New Edinburgh Road then seek reimbursement from the county. I would then invest the balance in open space, which provides a long term benefit to West Windsor. Off setting the current budget in order to realize an immediate tax break is irresponsible and penalizes the residents of West Windsor by providing approximately 40 percent of this profit to the businesses. The focus of this utilization of profits should be long term rather than a one year "flash in the pan".
3. Yes. West Windsor has the responsibility to work cooperatively with other municipalities in order to develop regionalized traffic plans which provide equitable solutions to the areas traffic considerations. All decisions should be based upon cause and effect.
4. Downzoning still produces homes. Purchases of open space or farm land preservation results in no new homes and subsequently benefits West Windsor.
5. We need to appeal Toll to gain leverage in negotiating West Windsor. At present, Toll has won and West Windsor has lost. As a result, we have no bargaining power and must continue the fight in order to have a say in what happens with this development.
Address: Cambridge Way
Years of WW Residence: 15
Occupation: Attorney, Avolio & Hanlon
Community Activities: WW Town Council 1997-present; WW Mayor (first elected) 1993 - 1997; NJ Planning Board Achievement Award: 1994, 1995, 1996; Co-author of Timed Growth Ordinance; Capital Improvement Plan, B-3 Zone; WW Youth Baseball, Soccer, Basketball, Little League (Coach/Manager); Little League Board of Directors: 1987 - 1993; St. David the King - Building Committee
Responses to Questions:
1. I believe we need to stay the current course. We won the appeal against Toll. My challengers would have us believe that this was not possible. We have now proven that the legal process does work and it has in our favor. In basic terms, Toll has not built the Estates during the years I have been in office, this delay has allowed our school district something of a fighting chance to manage the fast growth it is already experiencing. We also need to continue our land acquisition campaign. This must be balanced with legislative tools to balance the current tax burden that fixed income families must bear during this process. We also have to be careful not to inadvertently transfer building rights to parcels that are for sale now. This would have the effect of artificially raising the price of these parcels at taxpayer expense. We must seriously consider all sides of these transactions and how we enact the township's ordinance as we go forward.
2. Typically, one would match one-time funds, as in the sale of the liquor license, against long term liabilities. However, with the growth of the school tax, the 5-cent open space tax, and the municipal tax, I can not in good conscience try not to offset these tax increases in the upcoming year.
3. Yes, if it is a two-lane road with a speed limit enforced at 35 miles an hour. Because the train station at Princeton Junction has become a regional hub, the State is trying to use this theme as a means to create West Windsor as a regional intersection. This should not be the case. These are two very different issues.
4. The downzoning decision was made in 1993 while I was on the Planning Board. Since Timed Growth has been taken away from us, downzoning is now the only way we are able to protect the quality of life in our town while preserving our school system. Timed Growth offered a fair way to "Time" the build out, in other words, it offered us a surgical tool to protect our families while treating builders fairly. Now we must use downzoning as the remaining blunt legislative instrument that we have left under the State Constitution.
5. We must bring all of our legal resources to bear in order to win the appeal. We can win this appeal and we have the legal issues on our side. This is all public information and has been reported in the press.
Address: 12 Bridgewater Drive
Years of WW Residence: 14 Years
Education: B.S.Ch.E. (National Taiwan Univ.); M.S., M.Ph., Ph.D. (Rutgers)
Registered Professional Engineer and Professional Planner in New Jersey
Occupation: Administrator (Water Supply Administration, NJDEP); Adjunct Professor (Rutgers Univ.)
Community Activities: Six years as a member of West Windsor Township Council, including four years as Council President; Board Member, NJ State Health Care Facilities ; Financing Authority Member, Mercer County Economic Development Council; Trustee, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association; Volunteer Tai-Chi Instructor, West Windsor Senior Center; Former Member, West Windsor Board of Health ('86-'87); Environmental Commission ('87-'93)
Responses to Questions:
1. The State Development and Redevelopment Plan states that "capacity-based planning is, in reality, a matter of logic... Public policy should not generate demand that exceeds capacity." I would immediately apply capacity-based planning techniques to modify the current zoning based on capacity calculations. This approach will ensure fairness and protection of all property owners in West Windsor.
With passage of the state open space referendum, which will make $98 million over 10 years, almost one billion dollar available, plus an additional one penny county open space money and incentives for state and federal tax reductions, we can further develop a cost effective open space program.
At present, an open space program taking into consideration environmental features, economical benefits, recreational values, and farmland preservation, in conjunction with rezoning is the only way to strengthen our growth management program. In the long term, it is important to push for legislation to ensure municipalities are given the authority to control growth based on the concept of the Timed Growth Ordinance.
2.In the past the sale had been used as part of the additional revenues in the budget. It is especially critical for 1999, because we will have the highest tax increase in the history of West Windsor. Using these revenues would provide some relief to our overburdened residents.
I would point out that at this time the administration has not yet come up with the budget proposal based on the council review ended about two months ago. At present, I am open to other alternatives that may help the municipal budgeting from other perspectives, such as traffic improvements, debt services, and other community needs, etc.
3. Yes, I support the proposed Millstone Bypass based on the historical background and traffic patterns that have already been created in the area. In the future, we should initiate better communication among adjacent and neighboring municipalities in transportation planning. Regional, state, and county coordination and cooperation are critical to the implementation of traffic circulation strategies that enhance our community.
4. I support downzoning based on scientifically defensible capacity calculations, which allow only for local development at densities that can be supported by manmade infrastructure and natural resource systems. In fact the report I prepared based on 1996 USGS study was designed for protection of groundwater resources to accomplish this goal. I am hoping this report will facilitate the dialogue to refine our downzoning in the remaining non-sewered and undeveloped areas.
5. We need to appeal because the implication of Judge Carchman's decision has repercussions beyond this development. The reason for West Windsor to loose this court case was that we did not have sufficient affordable housing units before May 1993. Now that the Superior Court has approved an affordable housing compliance plan with more units than are needed for West Windsor, it is important for us to pursue this case further. This compliance plan was prepared between 1993 and 1997.
Furthermore, Judge Feinberg's approval of Toll's original proposed design without the involvement of engineering expertise might result in deficiencies in Toll's current design on issues associated with engineering. This huge project, in addition to enormous tax and traffic impacts, also poses public health, safety, environmental, and stormwater concerns that could seriously affect our quality of life.
It has been suggested that we should have negotiated with the Toll Brothers long ago. However, the timing and conditions under which negotiations are conducted are important considerations. Unfortunately, the opportunity had never existed. In the future, if negotiations ever take place, we should be in a position of strength based on mutual respect, with a win-win outcome.
Address: 41 Windsor Drive
Years of WW Residence: 11
Education: B.A., Hunter College; M.C.R.P. (Master of City and Regional Planning), Rutgers University
Occupation: literary projects editor
Community Activities: W.W. Township Council; W.W. Planning Board; W.W. Afford-able Housing Commit-tee; WW-P District Strategic Action Team, "Attaining Personal Goals," Mayor's Pool Task Force, Board of Directors of FOWWOS (Friends of West Windsor Open Space), Mayor's Open Space Acquisition Task Force
Responses to Questions:
1. West Windsor should be zoned so that at full build-out there would be a population of no more than 36,000 and so that more than 40% of the ratable base would be commercial. We should purchase open space and pursue the Princeton Junction Village Center designation, but not increase its overall density. We should use capacity-based planning to avoid over-stressing the environment and infrastructure but should rely on policies for a sustainable community to determine density limits.
2. It depends. If there is a project (such as a teen center) that the Township wishes but does not need to undertake, and does not feel justified raising taxes to fund, then such profits can fund the project. If the Township's bond rating has been lowered, then such profits should be used to help restore fiscal health. If there is no special project contemplated and the township is in excellent fiscal health, as at present, such profits should be used directly to lower taxes.
3. I support the Millstone Bypass. West Windsor has a policy of building bypass roads to preserve our older neighborhoods. The Washington Road traffic circle is a dangerous intersection and should be eliminated. West Windsor is the site of many of our neighbors' regional transportation solutions. We must become a leader in this area, with a "do unto others as you would have others do unto you" philosophy. Regional conferences should address the basic issue: What should our policy be; building new roads and preserving the quality of life for older neighborhoods and businesses, or widening older roads, sacrificing existing homes and businesses and protecting the natural environment?
4. Yes. My policy is to support the preservation of open space for long-term environmental health, for protection of wooded areas and stream corridors, for meeting recreational needs, and because I do not believe that any more of New Jersey should be developable at urban densities. Downzoning allows clustered development and preservation of green space. Local governments can use zoning to predict and control ultimate full build-out of their towns. Purchasing open space, which depends on the willingness of owners to sell, is not predictable and not under the control of the township. Downzoning and purchasing open space should be used in conjunction to preserve large, undeveloped green areas.
5. We must vigorously pursue the appeal. Judge Carchman's decision was based on his acceptance of the theory that the developer's expert should determine whether or not market-rate multi-family housing is viable in a town. Toll's expert, naturally, determined that there is no market for multi-family housing in West Windsor, and our old affordable housing plan was invalidated because most of the multi-family housing was converted to single-family housing, which subsidizes fewer Mount Laurel units. If this decision is let stand, it could have deleterious consequences not just for West Windsor in the next COAH cycle, but for the other 565 New Jersey municipalities. Judge Feinberg's approval of Toll's unengineered sketch plan also sets dangerous precedents. We must appeal the underlying decision and we must appeal the subsequent court orders which have designed the Estates at Princeton Junction as suburban sprawl and not a sustainable community. Toll Brothers' attitude and arguments in this case and the others they have brought against West Windsor have shown that their goal is not just construction of one or two money-making developments, because testimony has shown that Estates at Princeton Junction could be designed for a better economic yield for Toll Brothers, but to maneuver the court system into taking control of local zoning away from towns and giving it to developers. We should not compromise on this issue.
Charles Carter Morgan
Address: 26 Birchwood Court
Years of WW Residence: 15 years
Education: BA, English, Wesleyan University; JD, Vanderbilt University School of Law; MBA, Pepperdine University; CLU, The American College; APPC, The American College; American Trial Lawyers Association Environmental Essay Award
Occupation: President, Nonqualified Benefit Funding; Registered Principal, Prudential Investment Management Services, LLC; The Prudential Insurance Company of America
Activities: Member of the Bar, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Texas; Member, West Windsor Planning Board, Friends of West Windsor Open Space, Princeton Indoor Tennis Club, Land Trust Alliance, National Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy, New Jersey Audubon Society, Sierra Club, Sudbury Valley Trustees; Former Scoutmaster, Pack 66, Boy Scouts of America; Former Den Leader, Pack 66, Boy Scouts of America; Former coach: softball, soccer, and basketball; Former Member of the Board, Newark Community School of the Arts; Former Member of the Board, Ashford Village Community Association
Responses to Questions:
1. While I do support capacity-based planning techniques as one of the strategies in controlling growth, before trying to control growth, we should adopt strategies that will stop growth such as open space purchases, farmland preservation, environmental easements, and donations.
Strategies that we should use to control growth include: implement timed growth legislation in Trenton; after success in Trenton, revitalize the W.W. timed growth ordinance; pursue legislation in Trenton expanding the scope and size of impact fees; negotiation; litigation; and appropriately targeted, carefully-crafted zoning.
We should also consider state legislation to allow property tax breaks for senior citizens that will encourage them to stay in their homes. A home of a senior citizen generates positive tax cash flow for West Windsor even after a tax break.
2. The monies received for the sale of the liquor license are not "profits." They are the cash value of the license that constitutes a capital asset. The monies should be invested in another capital asset solely to benefit West Windsor residents in a way that will maximize the reduction in our tax burden; e.g., purchase of recreation space. Contributing the proceeds to the general fund returns a third of the money to commercial taxpayers and will not benefit residents. We should put 100% of the money back to work for township residents.
3. I support the proposed Millstone Bypass in concept for safety reasons. Closure of Washington Road across Route 1 requires a good alternative. We need direct and uncongested access to Princeton Hospital. The final alignment of the Bypass should be set to minimize the adverse impact on the environment as well as the Penns Neck neighborhood.
It is imperative that we have a significant role in regional transportation issues. W.W. can play a significant role if we change our local focus and if we exert our influence regionally. We have more influence simply asserting our desires than we think we do.
There are various tools that we can use to restrain traffic flow, control where we would like the traffic to go, and discourage people from outside West Windsor from using our roads. We regulate the intensity of development in W.W. that, in turn, affects traffic volumes.
Pursuit of the Village Center designation will help influence the decision on Rte. 571 to be 3 lanes instead of 5. We must work with our neighboring towns, Mercer County, and the State to influence regional transportation decisions.
4. I support downzoning in large, undeveloped and non-sewered parcels of land, but only after more effective, less intrusive techniques have been exhausted.
Downzoning does not stop development but merely changes the type and intensity of development. We need to start with other techniques which stop and/or retard development before considering downzoning (see my answer to question number 1).
Downzoning is an appropriate planning technique, provided that it is targeted to not impact negatively virtually all W.W. residents as does the Miller Ordinance enacted by Council. We need a rational solution that includes techniques the landowner can use to receive compensation for the taking, and is implemented following full and fair input from planning professionals, the Township attorney, the Planning Board, and the public.
5. We have already filed appeals for the Toll case. That was a smart move under the circumstances.
We must use our litigation option effectively but we must also take advantage of our leverage before we lose it. The approach taken by Council threw away a school site that would have been donated to us. Their posture also threatens the water wells and septic systems of Toll's neighbors, endangers the health of Great Bear Swamp, and will result in total gridlock at the Alexander Road Bridge.
Appealing to the bitter end is a high risk strategy. If we lose (more than likely), it will leave Toll's neighbors without water and serer hookups. It will also leave West Windsor with nearly 300 more single family residences, many more apartments and town houses, and greater traffic congestion than we could have negotiated.
Who wants a Council that ignores our best interests when we are the neighbors in a fight involving our neighborhood? Who among us will be the next sacrificial lambs?