North South Brunswick Sentinel

Residents critique three designs for J&J property
March 30, 2006

Staff Writer

NORTH BRUNSWICK - The idea behind "the more, the merrier" definitely applied last Thursday night as roughly 85 residents had the opportunity to overlook and critique three preliminary design layouts for the Johnson & Johnson property as formulated by Hillier Architecture of Princeton.

As part of the continuing public involvement process by North Brunswick TOD Associates, residents were turned into architects for the evening as the eventual development of the 212-acre Route 1 tract, which is being purchased by Garden Commercial Properties, was discussed. Residents at the workshop were able to review three transit village scenarios and express their feelings about each.
"They all have their points. I like one for the traffic pattern, one for the layout," resident Linda Rodriguez said. "I don't like where the library is. I don't think a library should be next to a train station with children. And because I live off of Finnegan's Lane, I am very concerned about the traffic patterns because of how it is now."

The composite sketches included ideas suggested at the March 9 meeting, in which each resident in attendance was asked to write on an index card one component they wished to see on the property. After compiling the 75 different comments, J. Robert Hillier and his group formulated a preliminary idea of what the residents wish to see. The three scenarios placed a train station, library, housing, a town center, parking garages, parks, a bell tower, retail shops and restaurants in different areas around the transit village and had different egress and ingress traffic situations.

"Now we're starting to see some of the fruits of your labors and see what you think," said John Taikina, TOD Associates director of planning and development. "Tonight, finally, we can say we have a plan. We have three plans actually."

Although each plan varied only slightly as to the location of the buildings and the symmetrical nature of the layout, most residents agreed plans B and C were most representative of their desires because of the proposed traffic patterns.

"I like No. 3 because it does offer a quick and easy alternative to Adams Lane. Maybe residents there should shoulder the burden," resident Andrew Besold said.

Yet some residents were opposed to the particular components included in each.
Councilwoman Rhonda Lyles does not wish to see the proposed high-density townhouses included on the site plans.

"We don't want housing. We want to consider hotels. That will have people coming in and out, with a tax base, and no children in our school systems," she said.

Others felt that more concepts needed to be included. During the group discussion, a senior center, reflecting pond, biking or jogging path, arts center and elementary school were suggested.

A development team worked on Saturday to compile the three basic designs with the additional resident comments to create a combined sketch, which will be presented tonight at the fourth workshop. The meeting will be held at the Johnson & Johnson Yellowbird Reception Center off of Aaron Road on Route 1 from 7:45-9 p.m.

"I actually like their presentation. If it is as good and open as it seems, it will be nice. North Brunswick needs this. I hope the reality comes into fruition," Rodriguez said.