Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 19
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
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Planning Board Considers Barsky Development, Receives PEC Inventory

Dilshanie Perera

The Regional Planning Board considered an application by Barsky Enterprises to subdivide its Wiggins Street property during a public meeting last Thursday. The Board also received the Environmental Resource Inventory from members of the Princeton Environmental Commission for review.

Planning Director Lee Solow explained that the Barsky proposal concerned the lot at 46 Wiggins Street, at the northwest corner of Wiggins and Jefferson Road. The application involved dividing the single lot into two lots of 7,425 square feet each, with a one or two family home facing Jefferson Road to be built on each lot.

The previous structure on the site was a four-unit building, which has since been demolished. Since the structures to be built at the location were not under review, the applicant was not required to show building plans, Mr. Solow explained. The variance involved an exception for lot depth, which was at 99 feet while 100 were required.

Attorney Christopher Tarr noted that if approved, each subdivided lot would conform to current Borough zoning requirements.

Planner Peter Steck said that while the proposal involves both houses facing Jefferson Road, “it is not exclusively the case that most homes front on Wiggins,” regarding corner lots.

Expressing concern that the proposal would not be compatible with the area, Planning Board member Yina Moore asked whether other configurations had been considered.

Mr. Steck responded in the affirmative, but added that the “reason [the previous structure] was taken down, was the possibility of subdivision.”

“I’m inclined to vote no on this application,” board member Marvin Reed announced, saying that he was hoping for something more creative, while Ms. Moore noted that the subdivision did not complement either street.

Planning Board member Barbara Trelstad noted that “what was taken down there provided four more-or-less affordable units,” and worried that the units that would be built would not be as affordable.

“I’m more concerned that these houses be different from each other,” board member Wanda Gunning added, emphasizing that the overarching characteristic of the neighborhood is the architectural variety of the homes.

Noting that if the lot were not subdivided, the owner would have the right to build a very large structure on the property, the Planning Board’s Julie Nachamkin of said, “I would be even more concerned if this didn’t pass.”

After much deliberation, the Planning Board and Barsky Enterprise representatives agreed that the house closest to Wiggins Street should have its front facade face Wiggins. They also agreed that the driveway would not be placed off of Wiggins, and that no fence would be built around that lot. A few board members called for a single driveway configuration off Jefferson Road.

With the changes, the Planning Board voted unanimously to grant the subdivision with variances.


In other news, the Environmental Resource Inventory (ERI) was presented to the Planning Board for comments and with the intent that the ERI be incorporated into the master plan as an amendment in the near future.

Environmental Commission Chair Wendy Kaczerski noted that the document is Princeton’s first ERI in the past 30 years. “Princeton is at 90 percent build out. What we have left is all the more precious, making this document all the more valuable.”

Urging the board not to “look at what is left in a piecemeal fashion, because it will all just disappear,” Ms. Kaczerski said that the ERI document would be the Environmental Commission’s way of assessing the development applications that come through the Planning Office.

Environmental Commission member and naturalist Steve Hiltner and Senior Environmental Planner Chris Linn of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission collaborated on assembling the document, Ms. Kaczerski noted.

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