November 28, 2018

Publisher of “Megabuilders” Book Notes Council’s Approval of Zoning Ordinance

To the Editor:

I read with interest about the Princeton Council’s approval of the Zoning Board’s ordinance establishing residential zoning standards regarding demolishing existing houses and rebuilding structures that ignore the ecology, character, and scope of Princeton’s neighborhoods.

In 2014, our small publishing house, Wild River Books, published a novel, The Megabuilders of Queenston Park, by poet, translator, novelist, and Princeton University Professor Emeritus Edmund “Mike” Keeley, that chronicles what happens to a family when the house next door is torn down and a McMansion built in its place.

Keeley and his wife Mary were directly affected when the house next door to their ranch-style home was demolished and construction began apace on a house three times larger than the one that previously stood on the lot. In Keeley’s novel, as in real life, construction of that magnitude not only changes the character of the neighborhood but has a larger impact: it unsettles the chosen home life of surrounding neighbors and, among other issues, causes drainage challenges when trees are removed and land is covered in blacktop for driveways.

I was happy to see that Mayor Liz Lempert received more emails on this issue than any other. Houses out of proportion to the character of a neighborhood ultimately drive up home prices, forcing residents on a more modest income to move. The Keeleys were among the early bell ringers who spoke up at council meetings. I’d like to hope that Mike Keeley’s book had a part in the positive change.

Joy E. Stocke
Wild River Books