Candidate Statement: Anne Neumann

Dear PCDO members,

 

Let me outline a vision for Princeton that many of us share and suggest some policies to help achieve that vision. I learned these policies during my extensive municipal service and from research I've done as Chair of the PCDO's Local Issues Committee. If you share my vision and trust the policies I'm suggesting, please vote for me in Tuesday's primary.

 

Affordability and McMansions

Having served seven years on Princeton's Site Plan Review Advisory Board, which advises our Planning Board on applications for development, I know that the best way to control development is with zoning laws passed well before applications are received. On Council, to preserve our diverse neighborhoods, I will try to slow the tear-downs of modest homes and their replacement by million-dollar spec houses.

·         I support Council's careful study of form-based zoning, which can be used to regulate a building's appearance as well as its size, and which should help prevent McMansions.

·         Meanwhile, to protect close-in neighborhoods from over-development now, I will urge a quick-to-pass zoning ordinance based not on form but on Floor-to-Area-Ratio (FAR). FAR limits usable floor space on all floors to a percentage of lot size and varies in Princeton from neighborhood to neighborhood. The new limit could be a block's average FAR plus one standard deviation plus a small percentage. This would allow new homes at the upper end of average for each neighborhood but prevent any existing McMansions from influencing the average unduly.

 

Affordability and property taxes

Lowering property taxes will protect Princeton's diversity in age, ethnicity, and income. On Council, I will strive both to cut municipal spending and to raise revenue.

·         I will study how the former Borough supplied cost-effective municipal services. Before consolidation, Borough municipal spending per capita was in New Jersey's 51stpercentile (average), while the Township was in the 86th percentile (well above average).

·         I plan to recommend municipal budgets based on each past year's actual expenditures.

·         I will advocate for a volunteer economic development commission to help retain existing businesses and attract new ones in keeping with Princeton's character. An economic development commission might study whether Princeton would benefit from a jobs-training program. Such a commission could also encourage business incubators to foster start-ups that would remain in Princeton.

 

Affordability and Princeton University

·         I will consult with the plaintiffs' lawyer in the case questioning Princeton University's non-profit status to ensure the best possible settlement for our town. Having served on the PCDO's Princeton Citizens for Tax Fairness for five years, I believe that any settlement in the case will depend on how we assess the University's property. Princeton University values its own land and buildings at $4.3 billion. And even this valuation, for various technical reasons, may be much too low. Meanwhile, we assess the University's Princeton property at just $1.9 billion. On Council, I will work to correct this discrepancy.

 

Affordable housing

On Council, I will vote to increase affordable housing.  

·         I will help Princeton's affordable-housing providers raise federal and foundation funding.

·         I will support a developer's set-aside greater than 20%, achieved through negotiation and incentive zoning.

·         I will recommend zoning changes to facilitate private solutions like accessory dwelling units and micro-housing.

 

A municipal government that listens to residents

On Council, I will work to ensure open, consultative government.

·         I will recommend a biweekly newspaper column describing Council's activities.

·         I will strive for better communication between Council, appointed boards and commissions, and residents.

·         I will reintroduce the Neighborhood Advisory Councils we were promised before consolidation, and I will, until then, hold neighborhood meetings.

·         I will advocate reliance not only on professional staff and paid consultants but also on local experts and neighborhood groups.

 

The environment and sustainability

Having served for six years on Princeton's Environmental Commission, I support balancing social justice, economic development, and environmental protection.

·         I will help introduce incentives for green building into our Master Plan.

·         I will support cooperative solar farms that even Princeton renters can invest in.

·         I will continue to advocate for earned paid sick leave for full- and part-time workers.

·         I support a current lawsuit against wage theft.

·         I will explore a hire-local program and an increased local minimum wage.

·         I will work to restore a downtown where we can meet and shop for daily needs.

 

 

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