#b#SPRAB Review Set For Islamic Center#/b#

The West Windsor Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) will meet Monday, January 14, at 7:30 p.m. in meeting room A of the Municipal Building to consider the application of the Institute of Islamic Studies to construct a 29,000 square foot center at 2030 Old Trenton Road.

According to SPRAB’s posted agenda, “this is an application for a two-storied house of worship building with a total of 29,110 square feet and a 14,949 square feet basement area located at 2030 Old Trenton Road between Dorchester Drive and Princeton-Hightstown Road on a 7.17 acre parcel. The building height will be 35 feet, together with a 50-foot minaret. The proposed parking lot consists of 219 parking spaces.”

#b#Planners to Hear Bolfmar Request#/b#

At its meeting on Wednesday, January 9, at 7 p.m. in meeting room A of the Municipal Building, the Planning Board is expected to hear an application from Vishwas Tengshe for a minor subdivision of a lot at 16 Bolfmar Avenue.

According to the statement posted as part of the meeting’s agenda, “the applicant requests approval to subdivide his property located at 16 Bolfmar Avenue into two lots, one to contain the existing dwelling and the other a vacant lot. The existing lot is over-sized and is almost thrice the minimum lot size allowed in the R-20 zone district.

“The location of existing lot at the end of a cul-de-sac results in the need for variances for lot frontage for both lots and lot width for the proposed vacant lot. The proposed lots satisfy all other bulk standards of the R-20 zone district.”

#b#Township Appeals Chopper Ruling#/b#

West Windsor has filed an appeal in Superior Court to reverse a November 19, 2012, decision by the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission that requires the Township to provide full tuition reimbursement to two police officers taking helicopter flying lessons.

According to a statement from the mayor’s office, “the unrestricted practice of such reimbursement derives from long-standing provisions in police union labor contracts that were decided by state-appointed arbitrators and are no longer compatible with the economic and budgetary realities that confront municipalities today.

“When the Township was faced with a $14,860 flight school tuition bill through 2011 under the old contractual provision, it determined to end the fiscally irresponsible practice. The Commission’s failure to restrain the union grievance means that the Township will be forced to incur an estimated $83,100 in additional flight school tuition costs through 2013 if an arbitrator determines the contractual provision is enforceable.”

The mayor’s statement notes that “West Windsor has never deployed a helicopter or any aircraft as part of its police or public safety apparatus, and has never deployed any police personnel to pilot such craft. The Township has determined, as a matter of government policy, that it would be inconsistent with the intent of tuition reimbursement to subsidize the tuition of any of its police officers (or any other public employee) for courses that are unrelated to the specifics of the individual’s job function.

“Consistent with this policy decision, however, the township will continue its police tuition reimbursement program for college credits for degrees in Police Science, Police Administration, Public Safety, Criminal Justice, or similar police-related courses.”

#b#Hot Reading In WW Township#/b#

The final police report on what happened to the Grover Farmstead in the days after West Windsor Township decided to raze the residential structure on the property that is now part of the town’s preserved open space is now being treated like a top-secret document.

Township officials, including attorney Michael Herbert, say they don’t want it to be anything other than an open book. But, Herbert reported at the December 17 Council meeting, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office has ruled that the report must remain confidential because it relates to a criminal investigation, even though nothing in the report rises to a “prosecutorial level.”

Instead Herbert said he was able to obtain a copy of the report that could be read — but not reproduced in any way — by the mayor and all members of council under supervision in the Township Clerk’s Office. Herbert himself was permitted to write a summary of the police report, compiled by Detective Mark Lee, and that summary will be discussed in a closed session following the council’s annual reorganization meeting on Monday, January 7, at 7 p.m.

Advocates of saving the Grover Farmstead from demolition expressed shock at the prosecutor’s ruling. “This is the strangest thing I have ever heard,” said John Church, who was present at the December 17 meeting to report on the efforts of the citizens committee working to create a plan for preserving the structure. “I am incredibly disappointed.”

Councilman Bryan Maher said the sealing of the report from public view “reeked of a cover-up.” Noting that the detective worked on the report for about four months, Maher said “it sounds to me like Bob Hary [the former township business administrator] or someone allowed the house to be pillaged.”

But Herbert insisted there was no cover up and told Maher and others on council that “you will be able to get it and read it line by line.” Summarizing the report, Herbert said that some windows, doors, a mantel, and bannister were taken by permission as part of a trade agreement the township has with an antique dealer to obtain items of similar value for the Schenck Farmhouse, an even older home that the township has been committed to restoring and establishing as a visitors’ center.

In addition, as Herbert summarized it, the report described some missing radiators and some copper piping, which was probably taken by “scrappers,” who enter vacant homes and strip the structure of items that can be sold for salvage value.

In a letter to mayor and council, Herbert said that “there is nothing in my or the police reports that will affect the Homestead Committee from generating its own report. The items that were found [missing] have a value of less than $10,000.”