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Princeton considers new land use plan

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PRINCETON — The Princeton Board of Commissioners was scheduled to hold a public hearing Monday to gather residents’ opinions on the town’s proposed land use plan, which recommends three downtown roundabouts.

The Princeton Planning Board, with assistance from the town staff and the Triangle J Council of Governments, drafted the planning document.

The current land use plan was adopted 20 years ago and, with the North Carolina Department of Transportation converting U.S. 70 into Interstate 42, a drastic update was needed, according to town staff.

The future land use plan would designate a section of downtown as the “downtown mixed-use district.” Future uses anticipated in this area include retail stores, offices, churches, restaurants, service businesses, assembly halls and accessory residential units such as second-story apartments.

With regards to transportation, the plan proposes improvements on Dr. Donnie Jones Boulevard and Center Street.

Most of Dr. Donnie Jones is a two-lane road, but the short section between Elm Street and the driveway to Princeton Middle/High School is a four-lane undivided road.

Given the relatively low traffic volumes on the road, the proposed land use plan calls for a reduced roadway cross-section with one traffic lane in each direction and a center left-turn lane.

According to the plan, the change should be able to accommodate the traffic volumes. Reducing the travel lanes from four to three would allow the remaining space to be reclaimed for other uses, such as space for sidewalks, bicycle facilities or on-street parking within the existing right-of-way.

Center Street is the main street in downtown Princeton. The section south of the railroad track is attractive and in good condition, officials said. But the proposed land use plan states it could benefit from streetscaping improvements such as plantings, banners, decorative lighting and general beautification.

To improve safety and the function of the section of Center Street north of the railroad track, the proposed land use plan said it could potentially be converted to one-way operation in the southbound direction between the intersections with Dr. Donnie Jones Jr. Boulevard and Edwards Street.

A roundabout could be installed at the Edwards Street intersection to help reinforce the restriction on northbound traffic, according to the plan.

Roundabouts are also proposed for the intersections of Dr. Donnie Jones Boulevard and Pine Street, along with Dr. Donnie Jones Boulevard and Pearl Street.

The plan also proposes additional sidewalks and an off-street parking lot.

Land use goals for the town of Princeton, according to the land use plan are: to provide opportunity for development of balanced and reasonable land uses, to promote economic development within the community, to align decision-making regarding infrastructure and land use, to promote a healthy mixture of housing types in the community,

to continue the revitalization of downtown Princeton as the traditional center of activity in the community, to protect the quality of the community’s natural environment, to provide appropriate transportation infrastructure in the community and to revise the town’s land use-related ordinances in response to changes in the community over time.

The Johnstonian News went to press before Monday’s town board meeting was scheduled to begin. Coverage of the meeting will be published in the newspaper’s Aug. 14 edition.