McMansion ‘beasts’ taking over neighborhood

Back in the 1970s, Marvin Gaye scored a huge hit with the song, “What’s Going On.” Each night, I walk my dog, look around my neighborhood and ask myself the very same question.

I moved my family to Edison seven years ago and settled in a nice neighborhood near Linquist Park. I never even knew the area existed, even though I traveled Featherbed Lane numerous occasions in the past 20 years but never had the occasion to drive down one of the cross streets.

Anyway, the Realtor showed us a nice house in our price range. But the real selling point for both my wife and I was the fact that the neighborhood was 90 percent ranch-style houses, our favorite choice.

Low and behold, times change, and Mr. McMansion decided to take on Mr. Ranch. Sadly, Mr. McMansion is winning the fight. Almost every ranch for sale is being gobbled up by a builder with a complete and total annihilation of existing structure, replaced with a house more suited for at least an acre lot, if not more.

What’s going on? Has anyone inquired about these behemoths meeting zoning code? Are they? The new monstrosity being built down the street from me has to be 15 feet from the next door neighboring house. I feel for that neighbor. They will walk out of their house and look up at the next coming of the Fenway Park Green Monster, a 35-foot wall of the newest McMansion.

Not to mention that the new homeowners of this beast going up will have to have their quests at the barbecue sit in single file between the McMansion and the neighbor’s fence in the backyard, or what’s left of it. Where’s the quality of life we all desire? I know builders are working stiffs like the rest of us. But, guys, ever heard of building an updated and environmentally friendly ranch, raised ranch, or center hall colonial?

A good trivia question would be: When was the last Cape Cod style house built in New Jersey? Heaven forbid. These new cookie-cutter, brick faade beasts stand out like a sore thumb in an established neighborhood.

I heard a neighbor of mine quip, “We won’t have any sunlight soon.” He’s not far from the truth. What about heating these monsters, are we not faced with rising fuel costs? Is it really necessary to have a 3500-square-foot home with nine-foot ceilings?

Let’s talk price. The builders are buying the ranches in the range of $300,000 to $400,000 dollars and then knocking them down. Add on the cost to build one of these new office building structures, then take a profit, and we have to be talking at least $750,000 asking price.

What’s going on? Do we have the Field of Dreams clich reworded to now say “If we build it, they will buy?” Has money, profits and greed totally taken over our way of life? Don’t answer that, I already know. I can see it all around me.

Ed Krutal


Most illegal immigrants here to take, not give

Prior to becoming a U.S. citizen and only eight months after my arrival in the U.S. from Ireland, I was drafted into the United States Army. Upon completion of basic training and a leadership course, I was sent on occupation duty to the 25th Signal Company in Osaka, Japan.

Some years later, I became a citizen of the United States of America. On that day, I received [written] congratulations from President Dwight D. Eisenhower himself. The letter stated, “I welcome you into our great family of free men and women and sincerely hope that you will find in your new homeland peace, security and well-being.”

It is the duty of American citizens to obey their country’s laws. Unfortunately, however, 11 million illegal immigrants are living outside the law. And it is insulting for those of us who were required to have a sponsor, pass a physical examination and have a clean police record in order to immigrate.

Today, most illegal immigrants are here to take, not to give. Most do not pay income taxes or hospital charges, and the money they earn is shipped out of the country.

In attaining United States citizenship, I have gained a priceless possession. I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, support its Constitution, obey its laws, respect its flag and defend it against all enemies.

Michael Meehan


AARP official has friendly reminder for the governor

Congratulations on your victory and recent inauguration as governor of the state of New Jersey.

Many people make New Year’s resolutions in the month of January and unfortunately they are broken by the end of that very same month.

Our 1.35 million New Jersey AARP members do not expect your campaign promises to end up in the same manner.

This letter is a friendly reminder to you of the very words and promises that you made during your campaign trail.

As an additional reminder, I have enclosed a copy of our 2005 AARP Voter Guide with your responses to the questions of greatest concern to our New Jersey AARP senior citizens.

We are committed to holding you accountable for your promises and actions and expect great results from you. We urge you and your administration to work closely with the New Jersey AARP to fulfill your pledges to us.

Among the 413 co-signers are friends, AARP members’ families and my 2-year-old grandson, Ryan Vassiliades. He will expect a better New Jersey when he becomes a member of the New Jersey AARP. We are dedicated to doing exactly that and with your help our goals will be reached!

George Vassiliades

AARP coordinator

Middlesex County