Hun upgrades get approval of Planning Board

Service yard and areas along Edgerstoune Road to be improved.

By: David Campbell
   The Princeton Regional Planning Board approved a plan Thursday night by The Hun School of Princeton for improvements to a service yard behind the dining hall and along residential Edgerstoune Road.
   With its 10-0 vote, the Planning Board approved a plan that includes upgrades to the service area and the relocation of four dumpsters; improved lighting, landscaping and pedestrian pathways; better screening from residential roads; and a new terrace and lawn area near the dining hall.
   A series of façade- and free-standing signs are also proposed by Hun for sites throughout its campus, including a sign within the right of way at the intersection of Edgerstoune Road and Route 206.
   Under the plan, buses parked at the redesigned service yard will be relocated out of sight of neighbors and about 15 additional parking spaces will be created for staff, who currently park on-street along Edgerstoune and Winant roads.
   About 14 mature trees will be removed as part of construction. Fifty new trees and more than 1,000 shrubs will be planted as part of the Hun proposal. According to Hun attorney Richard Goldman, the plantings will be "substantial."
   Hun is undertaking its improvements to the service area at the behest of Princeton planners, who recommended upgrades in 2000 while reviewing the school’s proposed expansion to its dining facility and library.
   Hun Head of School James Byer said the school seeks to expand to meet student needs while being sensitive to neighbors’ interests. Hun has held several meetings with nearby residents to talk about their concerns relating to the application, Mr. Byer said.
   "There’s a great sensitivity we’ve had to our position in the neighborhood," he said. "We are trying to do the best we can to service our needs while being a good neighbor."
   Several residents told the board Thursday night that they appreciated the outreach by Hun, but expressed concern about traffic at the site and impacts on the neighborhood from ongoing construction at the school.
   "The Hun School has done a commendable job in reaching out to the neighborhood," said Edgerstoune Road resident Colin Watts.
   But Mr. Watts noted his concern about mounting pressure from traffic, the need for screening from residences, and the possibility of open-ended construction by Hun, which he said "gets exhausting for neighbors."
   The improvements reviewed Thursday are part of Hun’s 20-year master plan, which school officials have said is aimed at facility upgrades but is not intended to increase enrollment. The school has a student population of about 550 students.
   About 150 students drive to school and park there, and about 148 others are on-campus boarders. The remainder are bused in or dropped off by parents, Mr. Goldman said.
   In other business Thursday night, the Planning Board reviewed a concept plan by developer Landmark at Princeton LLC to build eight single-family homes ranging from 4,000 to 5,000 square feet in size on a proposed new cul-de-sac off Snowden Lane, to the west of Van Dyke Woods and Barbara Smoyer Park.
   Developer Joel Schwartz expressed a desire to create a neighborhood atmosphere at the site and promised innovations including a stormwater system that does without a large unsightly detention basin typical of many developments.
   "Even though this is a concept, we’ve spent the time to make sure it works," Mr. Schwartz said.
   Board members expressed concern about the size of the proposed dwellings, the need to maintain wildlife corridors and the risk of flooding.
   Several residents also expressed concern about maintaining the integrity of the ecosystem there.
   Snowden Lane resident Sydney Souter advised against proposed bike-path access via Snowden to Smoyer Park under the plan, but said he "enthusiastically" supports the development as it could result in a sewer extension past his home.
   Also on Thursday night, the board unanimously elected member Wanda Gunning to serve as chairwoman. She replaces Victoria Bergman, who was chosen to serve as co-vice chairwoman for Princeton Township on the joint body.
   Member Gail Ullman was elected to serve as co-vice chairwoman for Princeton Borough.