Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 29
 
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
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Planning Board Nixes Nini Proposal; Neighborhood Forceful in Opposition

Ellen Gilbert

The Regional Planning Board of Princeton unanimously denied a minor subdivision and waiver request from Rose C. Nini and the estate of Samuel E. Nini at its Thursday evening meeting last week.

The site in question was block 5804, lot 3, containing Ms. Nini’s current home at 75 Littlebrook Road. The existing lot contains 85,736 square feet, or 1.97 acres. The proposal was to create a two lot minor subdivision of 39,581 square feet and 46,155 square feet each.

Mrs. Nini and her son, Kevin, were present at the meeting. They described the family’s years of living in Princeton, and their plan to build a smaller home for Mrs. Nini on the smaller of the two new lots. The question of the ability of an elderly person living on a fixed income to remain in Princeton was cited more than once during the ensuing discussion.

According to Director of Planning Lee Solow’s report to the Board, the current lot, which is located on the eastern side of Littlebrook Road, “slopes down from Littlebrook Road toward the stream in the backyard. The site is wooded with a variety of trees,” and “has a number of environmental constraints including the Township waterway corridor, riparian buffer, wetlands, and flood hazard areas.” Because the proposed new home would encroach on the Township’s stream corridor buffer, the Nini plan called for averaging the buffer area by creating a new stream corridor.

Mr. Solow concluded his report by noting that the applicant had not provided the actual square footage of the land involved; that the Board had not historically granted many waivers from the stream corridor buffer area; and that the lot is located within the Carnassa Park subdivision, which is subject to various private deed restrictions.

Another impediment to the proposed plan was described in Sewer Operating Committee Manager Robert Hough’s earlier report to the Board, which said that the plan to install a common sewer lateral to two homes on the lot was unacceptable, and that the applicant would need to provide an alternate plan. The Code of Princeton states that “in all house connections, each property shall be separately and independently connected with the sanitary sewer.”

Although the Ninis’ attorney, Kenneth E. Meiser of Hill Wallack contended that the plan showed “100 percent compliance with each and every condition in your zoning board requirements,” neighborhood residents who had come to the meeting spoke out against it.

Carnassa Park Association Board member Sheila Nall of 80 Random Road cited the longevity of the park’s deed restrictions, which were established by RCA employees living in the area during the 1940s. She noted the willingness of area residents to comply with them over the years, and their goals of maintaining large, green lots of a rural character. Current buyers of homes in the neighborhood are aware of the restrictions, she said, and “most property owners value them. The goals of the board,” she added, are “directly in line with the goals of the Township.”

Neighborhood resident Patrick Keenan of 17 Random Road, who began his comments by saying that in the 50 years he has lived in Princeton, he never before addressed a board, described the plan as a “trade-off of the economic interest of one party for the economic interest of a score of people.” He also cited the lack of “precise information,” in the Ninis’ plan, alluding, perhaps, to Mr. Kiser’s request for exact square footage, and to Board Vice-Chair Wanda Gunning’s earlier comment noting that the plan described the stream in question as being part of Stony Brook, when it really belongs to Harry’s Brook.

Nini next-door neighbor Laura Gitlin said that her “primary objection relates to the impact on the environmental sensitivity of the community,” and the absence of “any valid reason for granting a waiver to their request. To construct on this buffer would have an adverse affect on the area, increasing the burden on Harry’s Brook and promoting flooding,” she commented.

Carnassa Park land values have “risen significantly in the past few years,” observed Daniel Nall, saying that the community’s regulations have contributed to the value. Expressing concern about the precedent that would be set by this decision, he noted that he was going to retire in a few years, and although he “bet” that he could put two or three houses on his property, he wouldn’t do it because he respects restrictions.

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