A proposal to construct three townhouses at 25 Humbert Street (map) was considered at a meeting of the Princeton Planning Board last Thursday. As discussed in ‘Walkable Princeton’ last week (“Three-unit Townhouse Development Proposed for Humbert Street in Princeton“), a developer recently purchased the dilapidated duplex on this site, and hopes to redevelop it with three 2.5 story townhouses. The total number of residences would therefore increase by one, from the previously-existing duplex, to three townhomes, which would be a 5-min walk from downtown Princeton. In public comment, however, nearby residents did not seem impressed with the plan.
Speaking for the developer, Mr. Akash Ghulyani discussed how the proposal had been designed to maximize sustainability features, with the goal of reaching “LEED Gold” or “DOE Zero Energy Building” certification. Three electric vehicle charging stations would be provided. Bicycle parking would be added and the sidewalk would be reconstructed. Permeable pavers and dry wells would be installed to help manage stormwater, such that the project exceeds Princeton’s water run-off regulations, which were strengthened last year. The residence that formerly existed on the site was in very poor condition, contained substantial quantities of asbestos, and outdated electrical wiring. It has now been demolished, to prepare the site for the new homes.
Several Humbert Street and Humbert Lane neighbors who attended the online meeting spoke out strongly against the proposal, however. Calling the proposed townhouses “way too large”, “a hulking building”, and “overkill”, they instead called for a maximum of just two homes on the site. The usual concerns about traffic were raised, and the fear that the value of nearby properties might be diminished. One neighbor said that the townhouses would “downgrade the neighborhood” and that they were “too much reminiscent of workers’ places”. Another likened the townhouses to “a Soviet-era type of structure” (note rendering of the project, above). An elderly neighbor expressed the fear that he might die if he needed to go to the hospital and a car illegally parked at the new townhouses prevented him from driving out.
The neighbors had hired an attorney and a planner to fight the possibility of one extra residence being added to the street. After public comment, the attorney called several of the neighbors as witnesses to continue the opposition, citing concerns about circulation and parking. Some neighbors spoke more than once, and many of the concerns were expressed at length. As such, the Planning Board ran out of time to vote on the application, and chose to continue the discussion at another meeting on May 6.
A video of the Planning Board meeting can be viewed below: