March 6, 2019

Supporting Efforts On Tear-Downs Expressed by Zoning Officer Bridger

To the Editor:

As acknowledged in newspaper articles and letters, many if not most citizens within Princeton support efforts to, as expressed by Zoning Officer Derek Bridger, “slow down and de-incentivize tear-downs on substandard lots.” That desire is of long duration and growing stronger with each sighting of the dreaded orange plastic fencing and red ribbons around old trees that signals another razing of a house and blighting of a landscape. Bridger and Council members David Cohen and Tim Quinn offer a compelling rationale for why Princeton should adopt the proposed ordinance that would eliminate Floor Area Ratio (FAR) bonuses allowing for larger buildings on undersized lots. If amendments need to be made to avoid the unintended consequences of placing minor adjustments to a house such as the replacement of a window under this ordinance then they should be made but quickly. I fear that these complaints mask a competing desire of architects and developers to continue to build structures that are grossly inconsistent with the neighborhoods in which they appear.

Kevin Roche, the noted architect, who died last week toward the end of his career, spoke about the act of building as an “act of faith in the future, and of hope.” Architecture, he realized, should be “not only sane and useful and beautiful, but a clear and true reflection of our own aspirations.” I believe that the proposed ordinance will lead to rehabilitation of existing buildings in a way that is not only useful and beautiful but also reflective of our aspirations for Princeton and what we wish to be as a community.

T.J. Elliott

Gulick Road