myCentralJersey.com

March 26, 2010

By JARED KALTWASSER STAFF WRITER

Transit village would be fiscal asset for North Brunswick

NORTH BRUNSWICK —The proposed Route 1 transit village would be an overall fiscal plus for the township and bring a relatively low number of students into the school district, according to a study presented to the Township Council this week.

"I think everybody was very positive," said Councilman Bob Davis. "I know we've been worrying about it for years, and we're really excited about the numbers because the main thing that we know people will question is how many children is this going to bring in."

The study was performed by New York-based Urbanomics and compared the proposed transit village to 32 similar projects in similar communities across the United States. It was paid for by North Brunswick TOD Associates, which wants to put a mix of high-density housing, stores, restaurants, and commercial and office space around a proposed train station near Route 1 and Aaron Road.

The project has been split into two phases. Phase one would include stores, part of the development's mixed-use "Main Street," and about 300 residential units. The full build-out would include a total of 1,875 units, including 315 affordable housing units.

Urbanomics found that the full development would generate 181 students. The first phase would only generate nine.

Jonathan Frieder, managing partner at TOD Associates, the project's developer, said the low student totals are in large part because the transit village would not have the open space, playgrounds or other amenities that typically attract families.

"It has more of an urban feel to it, so typically it's young people who are just starting out in their careers or just graduated from school and want to live in loft-type housing, the type you get in Hoboken or Jersey City," Frieder said. "And then typically also people who that are at a place in their life where they may be down-sizing or their children have grown and moved out of the house, and they also want to live in an urban neighborhood."

Fewer children is good news for the township because children who attend public schools cost taxpayers more than adult residents. Tom Vigna, the township's planner, said the study figured that every person generated by the development would cost the township about $750 in municipal services. Meanwhile, it would cost the township schools an average of $13,572 to educate each child.