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Ordinance Restricting House Size May Punish Existing Home Owners

Ford 3 Architects, LLC
Nassau Street

Public Officials Should Implement Safety Measures on Alexander Road

Terhune Road
Riverside Drive
Shady Brook Lane

Ordinance Restricting House Size May Punish Existing Home Owners

To the Editor:

This is my argument in opposition to the ordinance whose purpose is to limit the ability of developers to tear down existing houses and replace them with overblown, out of scale "mansions on steroids." Personally I can't think of enough derogatory adjectives with which to label the resulting monstrosities. As an architect, I can assure you that nobody could possibly match my interest in seeing this activity come to an end.

That being said, I will argue that it is foolish to assume that a cap ordinance will encourage good taste or guarantee that a community will be preserved forever as in a time capsule. This brings to mind the "law of unintended consequences." Will an ordinance restricting the size of "tear-down" replacements actually achieve the long-range desired results? Or will a new cluster of undesirable results emerge to be combated?

By pandering to every concern that the voting public advocates, whether real or imagined, elected officials often write ordinances ad hoc. As a result, we wind up with a potpourri of zoning laws that only the developers have the patience and staying power to tackle. The unintended consequence is more work for zoning officers, engineers, and the many professionals including architects, attorneys, planners, and other consultants. This all combines to make it more expensive to live in Princeton while doing very little to improve the quality of life, which should have been the first priority. The baffling array of restrictions discourages "Joe Citizen" from subjecting his or her needs to the confusing bureaucratic process.

The problem was not created by the developers, but has been brought on by the economics of Princeton real estate. Since Princeton is a very hot market, the developers are going where the action is. It is sad but true that the only buyers who can afford the inflated prices in today's market are the developers. Trying to slow down this McMansion phenomenon by restricting house size punishes the existing owners as well by reducing the value of their homes. Reducing the permitted size of a house on its lot also condemns a large number of existing houses to a status of non-conformity, thereby affecting any future attempts to sell or put on an addition.

I must admit to a feeling of déjà vu when I hear people complaining about the "greedy developers." The same sentiment was expressed in the post-World War II building boom when Ben Yedlin, Herb Kendall, and Sandean Construction, among others were covering former farm land with their splits, ranches, and garrison colonials. So now the new developers are replacing the work of the developers of yesteryear. Life goes on!

Ford 3 Architects, LLC
Nassau Street

Public Officials Should Implement Safety Measures on Alexander Road

To the Editor:

We are writing to ask for action now to fix the dangerous Alexander Road curve, site of many accidents, the latest one fatal. While we understand that there may be plans eventually to straighten the road, we prefer to see immediate interventions to ensure the safety of every person traveling into Princeton on Alexander Road in wet, snowy, dark, or otherwise dangerous conditions.

We are calling on the public officials of Princeton and West Windsor to: 1) reduce the speed limit to 15 or 20 miles an hour in the turn and across the bridge; 2) post a "dangerous intersection ahead" sign with flashing lights, supporting speed reduction through the turn; and 3) install skid-resistant tracking grooves in the road itself, or speed reduction bumps before the curve to make sure the speed is slow enough.

What does it take to protect the public from a curve with such a history? If there is no fast track way to implement these safety features, local officials need to work with the county and the state to come up with one right away.

Terhune Road
Riverside Drive
Shady Brook Lane

HomeFront Thanks All Who Contributed To Its Children's Back-to-School Drive

Once again, caring individuals, organizations, corporations, and congregations of Mercer County made it possible for 1,129 homeless or formerly homeless children to go back to school happy to show off their new clothes, sneakers, backpack, and school supplies. They looked just like the other kids!

Every year HomeFront sponsors a back-to-school drive for children from low-income families who are (or recently were) homeless. These are families on minimum wage who are trying to do the best for their children, but they barely have enough money for food, much less for all the necessary back-to-school clothes, shoes, and supplies.

For children of these families, the start of a school year can be very difficult. They want desperately to fit in, but all too often their clothes are worn out and ill-fitting. They can’t be eager to learn under those conditions. This is why this effort is so important.

I wish that every person involved in this project could see the joy on the children's faces as they open their back-to-school bags. And their parents are grateful to know that there are, indeed, people who care.

On their behalf, we thank you all so very much.

Executive Director, HomeFront

Proposed New Jersey Transit Route Is Also Environmentally Unacceptable

We would like to see planning for Bus Rapid Transit include concern for the environment in the Princeton area. On Tuesday, September 20 in West Windsor, New Jersey Transit presented details of the Alternatives Analysis for Bus Rapid Transit in the Central New Jersey Route 1 region. While bus rapid transit is an attractive and important plan for the future, one segment of the proposed Bus Rapid Transit Route No. 1 has some of the same problems as a roadway already dismissed by NJDOT as environmentally unacceptable: the segment traversing pristine woods and wetlands between the Princeton Junction train station and Route 1, stopping at David Sarnoff Laboratories.

The website www.princetonol.com/groups/millstone gives links to the NJDOT's executive summary of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) regarding the proposed Millstone Bypass in Penns Neck. The FEIS states that an alternative roadway has been chosen, away from the woods and wetlands between Sarnoff and the Amtrak line, to a) minimize potential wetland and floodplain impacts, b) minimize habitat fragmentation and avoid disturbance of potential habitat for the threatened long-eared owl, c) minimize impacts to parks and natural areas, and d) reduce potential pollution impacts from new road surfaces.

To speed planning and development of Bus Rapid Transit in central Jersey and to avoid unnecessary and repetitive environmental studies, we urge New Jersey Transit to find an alternative to this segment of the proposed Bus Rapid Transit Route No. 1.

Fisher Place

Let Borough Engineering Department Improve Harrison Street Playground

While it is heartening to see the Borough Council take an interest in our neighborhood parks, it may be a case of too much too late. We all know the local propensity to address even the most mundane issues by authorizing a study before making any real progress, but in this case it is surely a waste of funds to do so. Allocating $50,000 to develop a plan for the Harrison Street playground will cause the actual repairs to be delayed by a year and will reduce the amount of funds that go towards actual improvements. This is especially alarming since there is no source of funds identified for those improvements.

I suggest using the able talent pool in our Engineering Department to devise a plan for the park. The Engineering Department has already designed other parks in town (as well as award winning speed humps). This plan can be reviewed by neighbors and users of the park and revised based on sensible recommendations.

Funds from Princeton University's donation for open space should be allocated for this project rather than used as a subsidy for the Spring Street garage project.

Spruce Street

Yard Sale Organizers Thank Community For Supporting Gulf Coast Relief Effort

On Saturday, September 17, our neighborhood hosted a community yard sale, the proceeds of which were donated to the Salvation Army's relief efforts in the Gulf Coast. We invited everyone who had items they could part with to donate them to the sale, and we were delighted when contributions started arriving from all over Princeton.

We cannot possibly contact all the individuals and families who donated items, so we would like to thank them in this letter, and to announce that their generosity, as well as that of the shoppers who came to the yard sale, resulted in proceeds of $3,600.

This amount exceeded our most optimistic goals and was a fitting outcome to an extraordinary day. We were repeatedly gratified by all the volunteers who helped sort and price the items on the evenings preceding the sale and then came back on Saturday to work at the sale all day long; by the visitors to the sale whose outpouring of good wishes and enthusiasm for the event sustained us by reinforcing the value of the endeavor; and by the incredible generosity of Princeton's residents, many of whom paid more than the amounts on the pricetags and then put additional contributions in the donation jar as well.

The Salvation Army has gratefully accepted our check and, like us, would probably have wanted to thank everyone individually. But those of you who supported this sale in any number of ways — you know who you are. We thank you.

Leavitt Lane
Fisher Avenue
Monroe Lane

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