WW-P News Council Candidate Questions-Linda Geevers
1) Our main promise was to stop any possibility of allowing residential housing on the 653-acre Howard Hughes tract, now owned by Atlantic Realty. Mayor Marathe negotiated a settlement agreement, unanimously approved by Council, which prohibits housing and allows for a variety of 42 commercial uses on this property. The commercial development will result in millions of dollars in tax revenue for the Township, instead of millions of dollars being spent on school-related costs.
We’ve also eliminated 500+ proposed houses at Southfield Road and Rt. 571. And the Township is purchasing the Hall property as Open Space, which will eliminate 400+ townhouses off of Village Road East.
The affordable housing lawsuit between the Township and the Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC) has been settled, preventing “builder’s remedy” residential construction and expensive litigation. As Planning Board members, Mayor Marathe and I have worked directly on a new Master Plan which will encourage commercial development to lessen the tax burden on residents.
The Mayor and Council have worked hard over the last several years to trim the Budget. We’ve had no municipal tax increases in the last two years, yet we doubled our reserves. Last year, we generated $750,000 more revenue than expected, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To improve our Township, we’ve doubled spending on roads and sidewalks. As more work needs to be done, I will continue to support infrastructure repair, including sidewalk extensions and replacements, bike lanes, crosswalk improvements and overall safety improvements.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Marathe, Council members, our outstanding Health Department, and our first responders have all worked tirelessly to provide the latest information about the pandemic, vaccinations and/or possible booster shots as well as other services which keep our community safe. Thanks to our well-trained police, fire and ambulance professionals who serve us through any emergency both day and night.
On environmental initiatives, we have encouraged new businesses to construct electric car charging stations. We continue to build paths for hiking and biking, including the extension of the Trolley Line Trail. Other green initiatives include establishing strong storm water management requirements, expedited solar panel approvals, rain gardens and pollinator gardens.
Another sustainable initiative that we have worked on is promoting the use of reusable bags. Through a $10,000 grant awarded by Sustainable Jersey and funded through the PSEG Foundation, I have personally helped to distribute hundreds of reusable bags. A new State law goes into effect May 2022 which prohibits the distribution of single-use plastic and paper bags and polystyrene containers at retail locations.
2) During the past four years, the Township has more aggressively sought after businesses through more attractive processes. We created a more efficient approval process and have actively encouraged businesses to come to West Windsor. The new Technical Review Committee (TRC) saves both time and money spent by applicants prior to formal Planning Board review. Second, our new Master Plan includes significant changes to the Land Use Element section. This Element outlines suggestions for zoning changes in various areas of town with the goal of attracting more retail and commercial businesses. With Council’s approval, the zoning has been changed on several commercial tracts along Route 1 and Rt. 571 (Princeton-Hightstown Road) to include a wider variety of permitted uses. Applications have been approved for a new drive-through Starbucks (by Lowes), two hotels on Rt. 1 with one having a WAWA convenience store, a Tractor Supply Co. store and an anticipated Urgent Care on Route 1. With the COVID-19 pandemic, owners of commercial office properties will re-envision their office space as people will eventually return to their buildings. The Township will work efficiently with these companies should they need expedited permit approvals.
3) A top priority of the Mayor and Council will be to deal with flooding issues. One area of particular concern is the flooding of Washington Road and Alexander Road, which is caused by the Millstone River dumping high volumes of water into the neck of the Little Bear Brook. We are currently working on outlining the Township’s flooding issues and we will call for a collaborative approach by the State and the many towns upstream and downstream to address flooding issues that are impacting our Township. Detailed engineering studies and infrastructure needs should be subsidized by federal and state funding.
We need to finalize a more permanent program for replacing sidewalks raised by Township tree roots. In addition, there needs to be more attention and funding for proper grass cutting, landscaping maintenance and tree pruning around town on public property.