At the Pennington Borough Council meeting June 5, Mayor James Davy and Council members addressed several projects affecting Pennington residents, some offering promise and others creating challenges. The Council discussed the health and well-being of teens, traffic disruptions, the town’s historic streetscape, the approval of a retail cannabis business, and more.
Promoting the health and well-being of teens
Heidi Kahme, coordinator of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, gave a presentation about the organization’s programs designed to provide positive youth development. The members work to prevent the use of alcohol, tobacco, vaping, and other drugs while developing “caring, confident and responsible youth.”
The Alliance sponsors and facilitates at least 16 programs that cover mental health first aid, family support, leadership, community service, employment, and more. Kahme highlighted the Digital Wellness Initiative, which focuses on using technology in a way that is healthy, intentional, and safe.
Last week, the Alliance hosted a free, three-day event for community members titled “Hopewell Valley Come Out and Play.” The affair took place throughout several local parks and offered 13 events including hands-on astronomy, mystery trail hikes, and a photo scavenger hunt. To learn more about the organization, visit https://www.hvalliance.org/.
Managing traffic disruptions
Mayor Davy commented on the oversized vehicles driving through the center of town on route to BeiGene, the pharmaceutical development company on Pennington-Rocky Hill Road. Davy said that he and Council President Kit Chandler had met with County officials requesting that the vehicles take an alternate route, but their request was declined. “The County administrator pulled the rug out from the County engineer,” Davy said.
Since the County meeting, Davy and Police Chief Douglas Pinelli have been working with BeiGene and have made some schedule changes to lessen the traffic impact. Davy asked residents to let the Borough office know if the traffic is negatively affecting them, and he thanked Pinelli and the police force for their work in making the transports as smooth as possible. Residents are advised to check the Borough website home page (https://www.penningtonboro.org/) for updates on the transport schedule.
Protecting Pennington’s historic streetscape
Eric Holterman, Chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, spoke about the proposed installation of 4000K LED lights on downtown streets. His concern is that they are extremely bright and would negatively alter the appearance of the streets in historic districts. He said that the existing lamps provide adequate light as is. However, he suggested that, if new lights are to be installed, a better choice would be 3000K.
Davy pointed out that under the current streetscape plan, PSE&G provides the light bulbs, and 4000K bulbs are the only ones they offer. Council members considered the possibility of not using PSE&G so they could choose other bulbs. After some discussion, they decided to install some sample 4000K bulbs to gauge their effect, and then make a decision on how to proceed.
Opening a cannabis retail store …. with regulations
The Council awarded a local retail cannabis license to Jersey Meds Management, LLC after Borough Attorney Walter Bliss finalized the original resolution. The retail store will be located at the Pennington Square Shopping Center on Route 31. The next step for Jersey Meds is to obtain final approval from the sSate, which it expects to receive soon.
Senior and Community Center Grant: Davy announced that Hopewell Township received a $2 million dollar grant from the State of New Jersey for construction of a center on Washington Crossing Pennington Road. Davy thanked Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli for his work in making this happen.
More about Roads and Traffic: Davy and Council member Nadine Stern discussed needed road repairs and funding sources including the NJ Department of Transportation State Aid Programs, fiscal year 2024. Governor Murphy’s office has announced that applications are being accepted through July 1.
Speaking on another issue, Davy questioned the need for a proposed traffic signal on Route 31 and Ingleside Avenue. He said it could create traffic congestion, and that an impact study should be conducted before installing the signal. Stern suggested using the Borough’s traffic data collector for the study.
Recycling: Business Administrator Donato Nieman and Stern discussed the town’s recycling contract with Mercer County Improvement Authority. Beginning January 2024, the cost for recycling will be $79,500, almost double that of the current contract.
Deer Management: Chandler reported that the deer management program appears to be successful in significantly decreasing deer population. This information is based on a recent survey conducted by drone photography.
Arboretum update: Davy shared that the Borough would not be receiving a grant it had applied for from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions because the volume of requests exceeded available funding. Despite this news, progress on the arboretum continues. Chandler expressed appreciation for eight volunteers who worked on the clean-up session June 3. Additional sessions will take place on the remaining Saturdays in June.
Police News: Chief Pinelli announced that two officers graduated from the department’s drug intervention program.
Summer Concerts: Council member Charles “Chuck” Marciante announced two concerts happening this month: Charles Laurita & The Mischief, June 16, 6 pm, Howe Commons; The Rangers Nouveau Band, June 27, 6 pm, Kunkel Park.
US Home development: At the end of the public meeting, Davy and the Council went into closed session to discuss their position on a 30-year tax exemption given by Hopewell Township to the housing development, US Home at Hopewell Urban Renewal LLC, located in Hopewell Township. Stay tuned to MercerMe for updates on this topic.
The next Borough meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 3.
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