How to keep McMansions in their proper place

Ed Krutal’s recent letter, titled “McMansion beast taking over neighborhood,” highlights an issue that affects all of us in Edison. Although people move into our Edison neighborhoods for a variety of reasons, a major consideration for anyone is the physical character of the neighborhood. When a neighborhood begins to change, it can be difficult to accept. Some may call this progress; I am not sure that this is always the case in Edison.

In the last 30 years, suburban sprawl has run rampant not only in Edison, but in New Jersey and the United States. Unfortunately, there has been much overdevelopment in Edison that cannot be reversed. However, we still can make a difference in our community. With the proper planning tools, we can direct future development and growth, and create a standard of living and a quality of life that we can be proud of.

Councilman Charles Tomaro has been working diligently on a municipal ordinance to help combat the building of McMansions in our town. Councilman Tomaro, with the support of Mayor Choi’s administration, has proposed an ordinance that would limit the maximum floor-area ratio of newly built houses.

The adoption of this ordinance will help maintain balance in our neighborhoods by ensuring that houses are built on properly sized lots. We can all agree that nobody wants to look out a window and see a 35-foot wall of a McMansion where they once saw trees and open space. Floor-area ratio (FAR) is the total floor area of a building divided by the ground area of the plot the building is set upon.

The use of FAR works in conjunction with existing setback zoning requirements for front and side yards, which will help the township better control housing density.

A FAR ordinance would ensure our neighborhoods have adequate sunlight, proper ventilation and fire, safety and emergency access. More importantly, the FAR ordinance will help maintain the existing character and balance of our Edison neighborhoods.

This proposed ordinance is long overdue in Edison, and is an excellent tool to control housing density and thus, help maintain the character of our neighborhoods.

I cannot promise that it will cure all of Edison’s overdevelopment ills, but it is another step in the right direction. Large houses by themselves are not bad, but when houses are build on lots that are not properly sized, the cumulative effect can be detrimental to the community.

This ordinance, together with the current efforts of Mayor Choi’s administration in formulating a comprehensive planning strategy will ensure that smart growth principles are employed in all aspects of planning in Edison.

Mark Daniele


Edison Planning Board