By James M. Taylor
I want to apologize for my tardiness in writing the monthly mayor’s column. I was on vacation the last week of July and was not able to complete the column for last week’s edition.
While on vacation I finished a several week project of stripping and repainting part of the exterior of my home. While spending 60 plus hours on the project and trying to avoid heat stroke and sunburn, I was pleasantly surprised and grateful for the residents who would come by to have discussions. These discussions not only kept me sane from the boredom, but proved how interested residents are in their town. Many good questions were raised in these impromptu sessions and it got me thinking that it may be of interest to do a six-month recap of items going on in Cranbury over the past seven months.
In terms of the financial aspects, our township municipal budget is running smoothly. Our property tax bills were mailed and as you may have noticed your property tax bills are less this year than last year as the overall tax rate dropped. This drop resulted in a savings of $45 for the average homeowner.
Our 2015 budget entailed a number of necessary repairs for Town Hall, which will be completed in the next few weeks. The trim on Town Hall was painted and rot was repaired in the eaves. The sidewalk in front of Town Hall is deteriorating and will be repaired along with improved landscape to avoid the expenses we incur each year due to damages caused by salt in the winter. The Town Hall roof will be repaired as some of the slate became damaged over the years causing leaks to occur. Our goal is to manage the building in a pro-active manner given its age to ensure we do not incur massive repair bills later on.
For the longer term financial picture, it is important that we attract new commercial properties as they benefit our taxes without burdening the school system. As you may have noticed, work has started at the corner of Route 130 and Station Road on what will be a new warehouse. There are presently 9 million square feet of warehouses approved and permitted, which over the next few years will have a positive effect on our property taxes.
Aside from our financials the largest issue affecting our town is our affordable housing obligation. On July 8, we filed with the court seeking protection against any builder’s remedy lawsuits that may be brought. Thankfully, we have an experienced Township Committee that has spent the last five years together learning and dealing with affordable housing law in New Jersey, an experienced Affordable Housing Subcommittee and qualified professionals. Together, we created the case for protection in our initial filing. While I cannot go into legal specifics, I can state that at this time we have been granted temporary protection against a builder’s remedy lawsuit. As information can be made available and we develop a more concrete plan to meet the court’s requirements we will be holding a public meeting to communicate the path forward as well as ensuring the details are communicated in the mayor’s column.
The development on the corner of South Main Street and Old Trenton Road is continuing to progress, but no site plan or agreement on density has been reached at this time. The township is working to involve the Board of Education so as to ensure there is no negative impact to the school system. I want to assure everyone that this project will have no impact on our relationship with Princeton High School. As promised, we will keep residents informed as the redevelopment plan progresses.
Due to issues with concerns over animal welfare we no longer have a shared services agreement with the Helmetta animal shelter. We have reached agreement with SAVE out of Princeton, which is a no kill shelter. SAVE has a wonderful reputation and we’re confident the animals impacted will be well cared for by them.
In terms of grants, we received another grant from the state related to the downtown beautification project and work is expected to commence in the fall on the next phase. Over ice cream, pizza or burgers, I have spoken with residents of other towns who have commented how great they find our downtown and came because they heard of Cranbury from friends who visited or in the press. In the last week or so, Cranbury was identified as a top 10 beautiful town by the (link:
Lastly, I’d like to extend a welcome to the new Asian Restaurant on Main Street, Food Sing. My wife and I enjoyed a wonderful meal there on Saturday evening both in quality and hospitality. I encourage everyone to try out their restaurant and welcome them to town.