To the Editor:

My family moved to Princeton 14 years ago for my husband’s job. We bought an 80-year old house on Hawthorne Avenue and have since been enjoying living in our tree-lined, historic Princeton neighborhood. We particularly like spending summer evenings in our backyard sharing meals with friends in the shade of beautiful old maple trees.

Regrettably, our quiet life came to an end last summer (with no warning from the builder) when the house next door was suddenly torn down so that a new one could be constructed. The oversized house was built so close to the property line that the bordering trees were severely damaged during the excavation. One of the affected trees has already started showing signs of decline. The future of the other trees remain uncertain.

With 30 teardowns and twice as many additions a year, there is an urgent need to control Princeton re-development.

Yes, we all know that change is inevitable. Yes, Princeton is growing. However we know that not all growth is smart growth. I believe that our vibrant, intelligent community has potential for being a leader in “smart growth.” We can build a future that will balance old and new; one that respects rich Princeton history while employing modern urban trends.

The town needs people who will champion this approach. I believe that Michelle is one of such leaders. Talking with her I was impressed not only by her ability to listen and respond to my concerns but also by her readiness to offer solutions to existing problems. For example, a few of suggested by her actions would have an immediate positive impact on the teardown issue:

  1. Require a performance bond to be purchased by developers of all residential construction projects proportional to the value of the project.
  2. Enforce the Tree Protection Ordinance and increase the fees associated with cutting down live trees to make room for construction.
  3. Notify neighbors of upcoming teardowns.
  4. Appoint a dedicated project manager to oversee 90+ construction projects and to enforce municipal laws.

I fully support Michelle Pirone Lambros and her ideas for smarter development. Princeton needs astute leaders who can think big and actually deliver on their promises. Michelle’s “can do” attitude is an invaluable addition to Princeton Council.

Galina Chernaya

Princeton

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