The Princeton Planning Board unanimously approved a minor site plan with variances during a regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 3.
Presented to the board by Planning Director Michael La Place, the plan regards an accessory garage, which is located at 6-8 Charlton St., about a block south of Nassau Street and just north of the Princeton University campus.
“The proposal is actually to replace the accessory garage in the rear of the site and put that garage use back on the first level and to make the second level an accessory apartment,” La Place said. “The building will approximately be the same size and dimensions, but it would have a little bit of an addition to have a staircase to have access to the second-floor apartment.”
Owned by Kevin McCarthy, who is the fourth generation to own the property, the newly built second-floor apartment would be used as a place of residence for his daughter.
“My daughter, Caroline, would like to occupy the apartment that’s proposed on the second floor of the garage,” Kevin McCarthy said. “I hope that in a year or two, I will be able to visit my daughter in her apartment.”
Caroline McCarthy, who currently works in Manhattan, lives in Brooklyn.
“I maintain very close ties to Princeton, and I am also involved in one of the historic preservation initiatives in town,” Caroline McCarthy said. “I want to start spending more time here to see family and work on that project.”
The proposed minor site plan has been an idea of Kevin McCarthy’s for a few years. He and his architect, Glen Fries, originally wanted to restore the garage. But after visiting the site, the two realized that the garage was beyond repair.
“At that time, we realized that we did have a couple of side yard [encroachments] on the south side,” Fries stated. “We got into looking at the building to see if we could salvage it, but the foundation is no good. We came to the conclusion to rebuild the building with a likeness to the old building.”
Area residents came forward during the public comment portion to give their encouragement.
“I live at 12 Charlton St. The status quo works very well. I am in favor of the proposal to add an apartment, from a general policy point of view as a former borough council member to encourage this kind of infill development,” neighbor David Goldfarb said.
Alongside neighboring support, the site also had no issues from an engineering standpoint.
“From a drainage, storm water management standpoint, the impervious coverage remains essentially unchanged by this application,” engineer Michael Ford said. “The front structure and access drive and parking area remain unchanged. But for the raising and reconstructing the existing detached garage, the other elements of the site remain unchanged. The utilities for the new [accessory] apartment will be provided via an underground connection to the existing structure in the front.”
The board did have some concern with the proposed plan because the garage currently sits right on the site’s property line and even goes on to the neighboring site on one side.
“There is also setback in both variances related to the new accessory structure and that its right at the property line,” La Place said. “The existing building actually encroaches on the easterly and southerly adjoining properties and staff has raised the consideration that the proposed building should be pulled back onto the property.”
Though, the idea to move the building in more was quickly dismissed because it would impact the parking lot of the building that is used by the office space located in the front of the property.
“There are bulk variances that are being requested for parking,” La Place said. “For instance, 11 parking spaces are required for the residential and garage use, as well as the office use in the front of the site. So, there are six spaces proposed.”
The property, though old, is in no way a historical site. Therefore, the application needed no type of formal review, according to La Place.
“The property is not located in an area designated as historic,” La Place said. “Although, I have learned that years ago before consolidation, the Borough of Princeton had considered the district as a historic one, but that was never formalized. It’s near some historic areas, but it’s not located in a historic district.”