Subdivision application hearing on Jefferson Road continues May 16

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A minor subdivision application for a property on the corner of Jefferson Road and Cuyler Road drew major opposition from neighbors at the Princeton Planning Board’s April 18 meeting.

The board heard about two hours of testimony on applicant Estate Shore LLC’s proposal to subdivide the property at 479 Jefferson Road into two smaller building lots.

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Despite lengthy testimony, the applicant did not complete the public hearing. It will continue this month at the Planning Board’s May 16 meeting.

The application calls for subdividing the existing .46-acre lot into two lots of .23 acres each. The proposed lots are less than the minimum lot size of .25 acres for new single-family houses. The two houses – one on each new lot – would replace the existing 1,200-square-foot house at 479 Jefferson Road.

Engineer Eric Rupnarain, who represented the applicant, said the two proposed lots are about the same size as the other lots on the same side of Cuyler Road. Those lots are about .22 acres or .23 acres, he said.

The plan showed both houses facing Cuyler Road, but it was suggested that one of the houses should be re-oriented to face Jefferson Road.

Planner Barbara Ehlen justified her client’s proposal for smaller lot sizes, citing the new Princeton Community Master Plan – particularly the need to provide for “missing middle” housing.

Ehlen said that “easing zoning restrictions, increasing flexibility to create accessory dwelling units and building single-family houses on undersized lots are among the strategies to develop missing middle housing.”

“Providing ‘gentle infill’ in neighborhoods close to downtown Princeton and other community amenities would encourage the development of small- and medium-sized homes to meet the need for missing middle housing,” she said.

“The Master Plan is seeking to allow a little bit higher density in order to fill in the housing stock. This application is on point with the goals and objectives of the Master Plan.”

When it was the public’s turn to speak, the reaction to the application was mixed. Most of the speakers objected to the application, but a few supported it.

Douglas Rubin, who lives around the corner from 479 Jefferson Road, said the house is dilapidated and that “anything on that lot would be better than the house that is there now.”

“There is no reason not to build two houses” he said. “It would allow one more family to move to Princeton.”

Sam Bunting, who also lives nearby, said the new lots would be consistent with other lots in the neighborhood. They are slightly smaller than the required minimum lot size.

“It is a perfectly reasonable application,” he said. “Many of us in the neighborhood are content with the proposal to create very nice homes in the neighborhood.”

Other residents who spoke objected the application.

Several residents pointed out that the new homes would not be affordable to middle-income households. The new houses would likely be priced at $1.5 million to $2 million, they said.

Jessica Atkins said she disagreed with the claim that the new houses would be aimed at the “missing middle.” The proposed 2,500-square-foot house is very large, and a household would need an income of at least $200,000 to afford it, she said.

“That’s absolutely not ‘missing middle,'” Atkins said.

Micah Feiring, who lives on the opposite corner of Jefferson Road and Cuyler Road, said he is a developer and generally supports increased density – but not in this case.

“The application would not provide for missing middle housing because the houses would be priced at $1.5 million to $2 million,” Feiring said.

The application could be revised to have one large house facing Jefferson Road and a smaller accessory dwelling unit (ADU) facing Cuyler Road, he said. The ADU would be more affordable.

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