Limitations on House Size Are Examined by Borough
Borough Council members unanimously agreed to introduce an ordinance proposed by the Princeton Regional Planning Board that would prohibit the construction of excessively large additions on existing homes or the building of huge McMansions in town.
The resolution introduced by Council at its May 11 meeting is intended to preserve the character of each Borough neighborhood, and prohibit residents from tearing down existing properties to build even larger ones.
"The regulations are not intended to stop development or stop residents from enlarging their homes," reads the report submitted by Lee Solow, director of planning. "Rather the regulations seek to preserve existing patterns of development and ensure that new homes or additions to existing homes are in character and scale with their neighborhood.
The proposed housing size limits were first presented at a March meeting of the Planning Board.
The resolution puts a cap on the size of buildings in each of the four Borough zones, along with extending the size of the front yard and side yard setbacks from the road and from other properties. However it is not meant to limit architectural styles, housing types, or stop growth, demolitions, or rebuilding, said Mr. Solow.
Nevertheless, in some areas the housing size limit will be cut in half. For example, in the western residential section of the Borough, which includes Library Place, or the "R-1 Zone," the 15,000 square foot maximum will drop to 7,000 square foot. In the eastern part of town, or the "R-2 Zone," a 7,500 maximum will drop to 3,600 square foot.
In the "R-3 Zone," which includes parts of Alexander and Mercer Streets, housing size would be limited to 3,000 square foot for one-family homes and 2,000 square foot per unit for two-family homes. At present, buildings may be as large as 5,400 square foot.
In the John Witherspoon neighborhood, or the "R-4 Zone," housing size restrictions would decrease to 3,000 square foot for a one-family home, and 1,750 square foot for a two-family home. Currently the housing size limit is 5,400 square foot.
According to Mr. Solow, these changes will not affect a significant number of homes.
"Very few people were building the maximize size [housing unit] or even close to that," said Mr. Solow.
According to Mr. Solow, the first zoning ordinance in the Borough was created in the 1920s, and revised in 1968. If passed, this resolution will be the first change in zoning laws in the Borough since that time.
Council is expected to hold a public hearing and vote on the ordinance at its June 22 meeting.