Planning Board to wrap up public hearing on Humbert Street development

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LEA KAHN/STAFF
The Princeton Planning Board will continue to hear Simplify Living Inc.'s application to build a three-unit development at 23-25 Humbert St. at its May 6 meeting.

The would-be developer of a three-unit townhouse development on Humbert Street – a small, one-way street off Wiggins Street – may find out whether the Princeton Planning Board will approve the application when the board meets July 1.

The Princeton Planning Board began a public hearing on Simplify Living Inc.’s application to build the three-unit development at 23-25 Humbert St. at its April 15 meeting, but ran out of time to complete it.

The Planning Board was set to take up the application again at its May 6 meeting, but held off so that the Planning Department staff could review some issues that were raised at the April 15 meeting. The applicant may need additional variances.

While the proposed development is a permitted use in the R-4 zone, the applicant is seeking several variances, including a variance for open space. The plan shows 1,200 square feet, but the zoning ordinance requires 1,800 square feet.

The zoning ordinance permits a maximum of impervious coverage of the lot by the building and associated sidewalks and driveways of 36%, but the applicant has proposed 70.9%.

The application ran headlong into opposition from neighbors at the April 15 meeting because of its size. The building would extend about 100 feet along the south side of Humbert Lane, which is a small private driveway that also provides access to two houses on the north side of the lane.

Humbert Lane, which is the small private driveway off Humbert Street, will be paved and the sidewalks will be replaced. There will be parking for three cars at the rear of the building. Provisions have been made for electric vehicle charging stations and for a bicycle rack.

The applicant’s engineer and planner, Jim Chmielak, said his client would maintain access along Humbert Lane to the two existing houses at 6-8 Humbert Lane and 10 Humbert Lane. There is an easement that provides access to the houses.

Chmielak acknowledged that a variance will be needed for impervious coverage, but his client did not feel that the amount of impervious coverage was inconsistent with the rest of the neighborhood. There are significant parking areas behind many of the houses ins the neighborhood, he said.

Of the three proposed units, one unit will face Humbert Street, the middle unit will face Humbert Lane and the third unit will face the open space area and the three-car parking lot. Each unit will have a deck.

Steve Lydon, a planner hired by one of the neighbors who has objected to the proposed development, said it is oriented contrary to the Princeton zoning code.

Lydon cited a March 30 letter from the town’s land use engineer and zoning officer, which stated that the R-4 zoning for attached dwellings envisioned side-by-side attached units fronting on the street with conventional side and rear yards.

The plan does not provide for the three attached units to front on a public street, Lydon said. One of the townhouses will have frontage on Humbert Street, and the others will have frontage on Humbert Lane, which is not a public street. They do not have conventional yards.