At the August 7 Pennington Borough Council Meeting, Mayor Davy and Council members discussed both the possible future of Pennington and the preservation of the town’s past.
Revised Master Plan: 2025
Representing the Planning Board, Chair Jim Reilly and member Andrew Jackson updated the Council on Master Plan revisions. Reilly said the plan would include a vision statement, and tBorough Planner Jim Kyle would help draft the content. The Board aims to complete the project by 2025.
The revised plan would include 12 main elements. Based on the draft of the 2023 Master Plan Reexamination Report, dated April 17, these elements include the strategic overview, land use, housing, circulation (transportation), utility service, community facilities, open space & recreation, conservation, economic development, historic preservation, recycling, and green buildings, and environmental sustainability.
Riley said they want the revised plan to be a living document that would allow each of the elements to be updated as needed without the need to update the entire master plan. The document would exist on the web with easy access to anyone.
The cost of the plan would be about $28,000, Riley said, which is less than half of the original estimate of $46,000. Payment for the plan would be spread out over two years. Savings would be achieved as most of the work will be done by commissions and volunteers, including student intern Yasmine Zein who is working with Kyle.
Future options for the closed landfill site
Davy and Council discussed the potential development of the closed landfill site between West Delaware Avenue and Broemel Place. Prior to the July and August Borough meetings, PSEG had expressed an interest in constructing a substation at that property. At the August Borough meeting, Davy said he had spoken with PSEG to express his personal distaste for constructing a substation so close to a residential area, but he added that he was not speaking for the Council.
At the Borough meeting, Council member Chico Marciante challenged that communication, questioning whether PSEG really understood that this was not necessarily the view of the Council body, which has the authority to make a decision on the matter.
Borough Administrator Donato Nieman mentioned that another developer has also expressed an interest in the property.
In response, Davy suggested that Council hold work sessions to address the property development and members agreed.
Speaking for the Historic Preservation Commission, Eric Holtermann said the group has been focusing on saving historic buildings from demolition. Recently they succeeded in saving a two-story house at 241 South Main Street, built between 1845-1855. The group is currently revising the Commission’s web pages and has updated its section of the Borough’s revised master plan.
New streetscape lighting
Council member Katrina Angarone spoke about the replacement of street lights. Previously, she was told that PSEG only offered 4000 kelvin bulbs, but Angarone recently learned that the company is offering 3000 kelvin bulbs. The Borough has decided to use these lower kelvin bulbs because they produce a warmer color and are less bright yet provide adequate sidewalk lighting. They also would complement the aesthetic quality of the Borough’s historic districts.
More trucks through town on route to Beigene?
Police Chief Douglas Pinelli reported that he had been approached by a company working with Beigene with a request to transport material via dump trucks to Beigene’s campus in Hopewell.
In a previous discussion with Mercer County officials, Beigene, and transporters, the Borough was told that tractor trailer trucks (in use now) had to travel through town because there was no other option. The Borough’s suggested alternate route using Old Mill Road in Lawrence was ruled out because a bridge near Rosedale Park was not capable of accommodating those trucks.
Council member John Valenza suggested that a study could be conducted to determine whether that bridge could withstand the smaller load of the dump trucks, and that further discussion should take place before reaching an agreement with Beigene or the transporters.
New police officer
Leo J Friedman officially joined the Pennington Police Department. Friedman took the oath of office administered by Borough Attorney Walter Bliss, and Council approved the resolution for hiring him.
Nieman discussed the current shared EMS transport services with Hopewell. Based on his research, Nieman said the cost for Pennington to have its own ambulance service would be about half a million dollars. Based on this cost, he recommended that Pennington keep its current arrangement with Hopewell Township for the time being.
Safety of minors
Bliss advised Council to review and update the Borough’s personnel manuals to comply with recommendations from the Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund (JIF).
An important aspect of the JIF’s document focuses on a new policy designed for the protection and safe treatment of minors (and the scope of Borough responsibility). Bliss recommended that Borough personnel manuals include a code of conduct for all staff and volunteers.
Borough auditor Rob Provost shared results from a recent audit report and congratulated the Borough for its conservative spending practices.
Online auction sales
Davy and Council members congratulated Borough Clerk Betty Sterling for making for the Borough $19,000 through the sale of computers and other items using an online auction site.
In an open public session, Pennington resident Stewart Warren addressed the Borough’s stormwater amendment, which prohibits residents from making physical connections to the Borough’s system. Warren said that when the roads in his neighborhood were repaved, the rainwater, which had been flowing into a storm drain, began draining onto the sidewalk. Warren pointed out that he was talking about pure rain water, not water from a basement sub pump or any other source. He asked Council to reconsider its stormwater amendment.
The Pennington Library offers several upcoming events including:
* Author Talk with Cassandra Clare: “The Mortal Instruments Series,” August 23, 8pm (virtual event);
* Author Talk with Jeff Selingo: “Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions,” August 30, 2pm, (virtual event)
* Author Talk with Laura Spence-Ash: “Beyond That, The Sea,” August 30, 7pm (virtual event)
* Garden Vegetable Paella Dinner Class with Vanessa Young, September 14, 7pm (virtual event)
* Art Talk: Edvard Munch: So Much More than The Scream, September 29, 7pm. (virtual event)
For details and to view other events, visit the Pennington Library (https://www.penningtonlibrary.org/).
The next Borough Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 5, 7pm.
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