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Lambertville City Council postpones vote on redevelopment plan for former high school site


The Lambertville City Council sat through a three-and-a-half-hour meeting Thursday night while residents spoke out about the 2024 Redevelopment Plan that would be set to develop homes at the site of the old Lambertville High School.

The amended plan proposes the building of 200 homes, a minimum of 40 of which would need to be affordable housing, according to the City’s website.

The plan began in 2018, and in 2022 the City negotiated with the development company K. Hovnanian on “the design, configuration, and density of the residential development of the LHS Redevelopment Area.”

Since then, residents of Lambertville have been outspoken about their opposition to the plan.

On Wednesday, June 20, the City’s planning board voted that the development plan was not consistent with the City’s Master Plan.

Due to the quick turnaround, the City Council ultimately decided to push the vote on the plan to, at the soonest, Aug. 16.

“The plan needs extensive review and revision and your comments are really important to us,” said Councilwoman Karen Kominski at the beginning of the meeting. “We have to hold dear what we have in Lambertville and are going to share it with the world in the best way possible.”

Despite these comments, over 20 residents lined up out the door to express their thoughts on the plan to the Council.

The major points of worry were the potential increase in flooding caused by the creation of a new development, possible contamination of well water, and the safety and infrastructure hazards that come with new traffic and more residents.

“This plan is a sham. We should not table it because it should be thrown out,” one resident said. “We would have to rename Lambertville to Lambert Falls because of the flooding that would happen. It’s a bad project, in a bad place at a bad time.”

And despite decorum not allowing clapping at meetings, the resident’s comments were met with cheers and applause from the crowd.

“I fear for my family and neighbors,” another resident told the Council.

Yet despite these worries, residents still understand the need for affordable housing.

“I was once homeless in our little slice of paradise,” another resident said. “And while my own situation has changed, there are still people [in Lambertville] in need of housing. We need to start working together for those who need it.”

Another resident mentioned the fact that she worked with 40, mostly Hispanic, families after Hurricane Ida who lost their homes and almost all of their possessions. “It was really traumatic for these people,” she said.

She mentioned the difficulties that these families had to go through after the hurricane.

“A woman had a heart attack, a daughter had to be homeschooled because she could not function in school, a man had to be hospitalized and refused to eat. These are the people that deserve the environmental justice we say we want as a progressive community,” she said.

Mayor Andrew Nowick discussed the need for a project to move forward to meet court obligations.

“I don’t want to be that guy who is alarmist but the Council knows the risks of not doing this,” he said. “The Court could take over a neighborhood in town if there is no agreement.”

However, he did say he was willing to have discussions about affordable housing at any time and research the effectiveness of a possible affordable housing committee in town.

Many residents asked if another plan could be made and what other options were available for affordable housing in town.

A few residents asked if the plan could just be rejected that night.

“I would not put that on the agenda,” Nowick said. “It would pose a serious risk to the community. I just won’t do it.”

Some also mentioned that there have been lawsuits against the development company, K. Hovnanian, an apparent reference to a 2010 Clean Water Act settlement of $1 million reached with the EPA and a $9 million award in a lawsuit regarding “construction problems” at a project in New York in 2017.

“Have you taken into consideration all of the lawsuits against K. Hovnanian when you think about this project?” a resident said.

“No, I have not,” Mayor Nowick said.

Discussions concluded with the decision to wait to vote on the plan.

“The earliest that we would vote on this is in August. It might even get pushed back more,” the Mayor said.

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