In its continuing effort to curb oversized residential construction, Town Council passed an ordinance amending land use regulations at its December 19 meeting. When calculating a house’s total square footage, interior spaces with ceiling heights of 12 feet or more will now be counted twice. Houses in neighborhoods featuring front porches are now allowed to build roofed porches, up to 200 square feet, that can encroach up to eight feet into the front yard setback. The ordinance changes also introduced prevailing setbacks for properties in the former township which, unlike former borough properties, adhered to rigid front yard setback regulations.

The new ordinance is the first recommendation to come from the town’s Princeton Neighborhood Character and Zoning Initiative Task Force, formed in 2016. Council also passed a modest package of ordinances at the end of 2015, eliminating loopholes that led to larger houses and mismatched subdivisions.

The march of McMansions slowed in 2016 but the trend continues. In 2016 the town issued 31 building permits for new single-family house construction, according to data provided by the construction department. More than 20 of this year’s permits were granted to applicants that were identified as limited liability corporations (LLCs), which indicate the property owner will build and sell. The 31 permits issued in 2016 is a dip from the more than 40 granted in 2015 (March 2016, Princeton Echo). More teardowns are on the way in 2017, as the 2016 tally does not include a half-dozen properties that received zoning board variances permitting new construction in the second half of 2016. In addition, most teardown construction in town is built as of right, meaning the property owner can build larger houses without having to go before the zoning board.

Zoning Approvals

The Zoning Board approved five applications — four of which were builder teardowns — at its December 14 meeting:

428 Mount Lucas Road, owned by David Lang of D&P Private Lending LLC. The property was purchased last April from Victoria Hellen Covert and the estate of Rene Kessler for $400,000.
The property’s lot area, lot width, and lot frontage did not meet the minimum zoning requirements, and variances were required to make it legal to build anew on the parcel. The applicant said a 4,478-square-foot, two-story Colonial with full basement will replace the existing one-story ranch.

262 Alexander Street, owned by Princeton University. The 0.38-acre property was previously Larini’s gas station and auto repair shop. The applicant was Enterprise Leasing Company of Philadelphia. Several variances were granted, including a use variance that allows the property to be converted into a car rental facility.

56 Tee Ar Place. Princeton Capital Group purchased the quarter-acre property in September from Joseph Perna for $586,000. The board granted a lot area variance. The current 1,360-square-foot Cape Cod will be torn down and replaced with a 2,500 square foot home plus basement and garage.

58 Erdman Avenue. Builders Roman & Daniel Barsky purchased the one-story house on a 0.21 acre lot for $450,000 from Robert Zederbaum & Deidre Lamarche. The board approved a lot area variance and more than 2,300 square feet is permitted.

505 Ewing Street. Builders Roman and Daniel Barsky were again the applicants for this 0.21 acre property. The board granted lot area, lot width, and lot frontage variances. More than 2,300 square feet of new construction is permitted.

Several residents made public comments during the final two applications by the Barskys.

“What’s been happening in our neighborhood generally, case by case, is altering the nature of Princeton,” said Jeffrey Spear, who lives near the Ewing Street lot. “I’ve served three terms on the school board, and one of the problems that we’ve had all along is the town dividing into very well-to-do homes and people who live in public housing and on assistance. It is producing a class split that is very uncomfortable.”

Echoing the requests of his neighbors, Spear asked if the applicant could provide detailed plans. “Already we have one house that’s at the maximum height, it is next to this one, and makes the neighborhood look like a mouthful of rotten teeth,” Spear said.

Addressing the Barskys, board chair Barrie Royce said, “The absence of a concept of what the house is going to look [like] on a property is causing a lot of trouble to the neighbors and to the board and wasting a lot of people’s time. I know you do not have to provide it and may not know what you will build on the property, but interaction with the neighbors before you come for your [variance] would save an awful lot of discussion which, although not pointless, we are unable to do anything about.”

Residential Transactions

The following listings of residential home sales, which closed between October 5 and November 2, are based on public records and tax files. The number in parentheses after the closing price indicates the amount it was above or below the original listing price.

106 Leigh Avenue. Seller: Owen Leach. Buyer: Jason Loiselle & Caroline Storti. 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths. 30 by 100 feet lot. Two-story Colonial in Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. $500,000 (+$35,000).

626 Brickhouse Road. Seller: James Fengjung & Peichung Liu Huang. Buyer: Yanhong Zhou. Buyer: 3 bedrooms, 3 baths. Townhouse in Washington Oaks. $515,000 (-$34,900).

95 Jefferson Road. Seller: Sergio & Susan Suarez. Buyer: Michael Leifer & Franziska Leifer. 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. Three-story Colonial. $895,000 (-$30,000).

19 Vandeventer Avenue. Seller: Robin Resch. Buyer: Christian Union. Historic Beatty House to be converted into CU headquarters. $1,925,000 (-$325,000).

282 Western Way. Seller: Margaret & Thomas Southerland. Buyer: Jonathan & Carolyn Pillow. 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. Two-story Colonial in Riverside neighborhood. $950,000 (+$1,000).

721 Prospect Avenue. Seller: John H. Denny Jr. Buyer: Jason Fleischer & Mariah Graham-Warnock. 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. Two-story Colonial on Carnegie Lake. $1,300,000 (-$195,000).

4553 Province Line Road. Seller: Bridgette & Eliot Heller. Buyer: Smart City Investment Ltd. 5 bedrooms, 6.5 baths. Two-story Colonial on three-acre lot. $2,085,000 (-$315,000).

32-34 Humbert Street. Seller: Institute for Advanced Study. Buyer: Elli Louka & Surya Mohanty. 2 bedrooms, 2 baths. Three-story house on 38 by 131 feet lot off Wiggins Street. $850,000 (+$25,000).

49 Allison Road. Seller: Stuart Warner & 49 Allison Road LLC. Buyer: Steven & Kathryn Slawson. 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths. 1.5-story Colonial on 100 by 268 feet lot in Western section. $1,547,000 (+$2,000).

73 Baldwin Lane. Buyer: John & Anne Burns. Seller: Yinhong Shao & Liang Sun. 6 bedrooms, 5.5 baths. Two-story Colonial off Cherry Hill Road. $1,480,000 (-$418,000).

285 Brooks Bend. Buyer: Dorothy & Steven Baum. Seller: David Goldman. 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths. One-story contemporary house in Pretty Brook section. $1,780,000 (-$95,000).

8 Greenholm Street, Unit D. Seller: Joseph Katz. Buyer: Subrata & Neil Chatterjee. 2 bedrooms, 2 baths. Condo in Colonial house behind Lewis School. $690,000 (-$160,000).

14 Wheatsheaf Lane. Seller: Stanley & Elaine Pilshaw. Buyer: James & Marina Tribble. 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. Contemporary split-level. $695,000 (-$4,000).

130 Shadybrook Lane. Seller: Cranbury Heights Estates LP. 5 bedrooms, 4 baths. New construction replacing teardown. $1,465,000 (-$110,000).

48 Maple Street. Seller: Gary & Johannah Hutchison. Buyer: Jessica Stephens & Stephen Pollard. 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. Two-story Colonial on 50 by 114 feet lot. $1,245,000 (-$5,000).

25 Brearly Road. Seller: William & Roswitha Dey. Buyer: John F. Mccarthy. 4 bedrooms, 4 baths. Two-story Colonial in Russell Estates. $1,258,750 (-$236,250).

24 Erdman Avenue. Seller: Joel Studebaker & Estate of Alice Studebaker. Buyer: Zhu Liu & Jun Yang. 4 bedrooms, 2 baths. Two-story Colonial on 70 by 135 feet lot. $682,000 (+$82,000).

184 Mansgrove Road. Seller: Robin Ferracone. Buyer: Suqiang Li & Peifang Huang. 5 bedrooms, 3.5 baths. Two-story Cape on .75 acre lot. $873,750 (-$26,150).