28 August 2007

Zoning lawsuit in Princeton

A lawsuit over a zoning decision in Princeton is heading to court. For our students, this is a great opportunity to watch how the process can reach beyond the board meeting and into the legal system. But this is also an interesting case for trying to use the limited (and potentially flawed) information in the paper as a basis for a real understanding of the case. At the heart of the case is the decision by the board to treat the two-parcel proposal by the developer as two proposals:

The board decided, at its own initiative late in the final night of hearings, to treat each lot as a separate application even though the proposal had been submitted and reviewed as a single application throughout the 16-month period in which 12 hearings on it were held.

Some of the details in the paper don't fit or sound quite right, and I might speculate that it is partly due to something like this: the developer talking freely (and maybe imprecisely) while Princeton's attorney withheld as much info as possible and spoke in explicit and detailed terms about the few things that he felt the public needed to know now. What is the reporter supposed to do but report what they have found? Sometimes these cases sound like the developer (or the board) is trying these things in the media, but planning and zoning cases rarely get significant publicity except for big projects like the Atlantic Yards. As for figuring out the details, in Princeton you can also check the Town Topic for details that make things a little clearer.

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