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Students who vote in Princeton should help defeat the Special Improvement District (SID) ordinance

<h6>Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian

The following is a guest contribution and reflects the author’s views alone. For information on how to submit an article to the Opinion Section, click here.   

For half a century, 18-year-olds have had the right to vote in the United States. The political voice of young people is important. Most students at Princeton University can vote in federal, state and local elections. Some may choose to vote in the jurisdictions in which they grew up. But others may decide to vote in Princeton, N.J., the town where they spend most of their time in their college years, under normal circumstances. Voting in the municipality of Princeton holds one unique enticement for the University community: if most Princeton students decided to vote in this community, their combined voice could be significant, if not decisive. 

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That influence could be put to good use right now. Princeton student voters should encourage their elected representatives to vote against the Special Improvement District (SID) ordinance, which will be introduced before the town council on Feb. 28. 

The State of New Jersey permits municipalities to create Special Improvement Districts in order to revitalize commercial centers dealing with diminishing commerce. Princeton has the most vibrant commercial center in this state, and is certainly not in need of redevelopment or urban renewal. To adopt the SID ordinance here would be a misuse of the state statute in the interest of a handful of developers and restaurateurs. Even if it works as intended, the SID will increase local traffic, exacerbate parking problems, and increase air and noise pollution in the town. It may very well be struck down by the courts — after the expenditure of substantial funds.

The SID ordinance seeks to create a new local bureaucracy, with new offices and new employees, in the guise of an independent organization, a la the Port Authority in New York City. The local authority’s task will be to serve the economic interest of a small special interest group. We are told that only commercial property owners will be forced to pay the bill. But historically, we should realize that every new bureaucracy, no matter how well intentioned or planned, ultimately increases the burden on all citizens. 

This proposed authority ostensibly has a sunset date. However, as Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman taught us, “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”

As the owner of commercial and residential property in Princeton, it is my considered opinion that the Special Improvement District (SID) ordinance is not in the best interest of student voters, or the public at large.

John Kuhn Bleimaier is a farmer, essayist, poet, rally driver and lawyer (nobody is perfect). He is the author of more than 100 articles on jurisprudence, history & classic cars.

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