AvalonBay Mediation with Princeton Enters Second Session
Tuesday, August, 12, 2014
Court-mandated mediation between property developer AvalonBay and the town of Princeton, New Jersey entered its second session in August as the two sides try to resolve the dispute over a residential development at the old Princeton Hospital before AvalonBay’s lawsuit proceeds in the courts. The developer had sued the town over Princeton’s requirement that they perform a second round of environmental testing at the property site. AvalonBay refused to perform the additional testing, which is not required by federal law. When Princeton blocked further development at the site, AvalonBay sued for relief.
The judge in the case indicated strongly that AvalonBay would likely win the lawsuit, and ordered both sides into mandatory mediation to resolve the issue.
The town approved AvalonBay’s plans for a 280-unit housing unit at the site of the old hospital. After discussions with its environmental consultant, however, the town subsequently approved the requirement for additional environmental testing. AvalonBay – and the judge seemed to agree – that regardless of the wisdom of the requirement, the town exceeded its legal authority in requiring it.
The development would be the largest real estate development in Princeton in decades, but the old hospital site and the specter of biological, radioactive or pharmaceutical contamination have made many in the town nervous about the environmental impact of heavy construction on the site. Both sides have been respecting a court order not to speak publicly about the mediation process, however, and so no indication has been made as to how the talks are proceeding.