A Lot of Talk About Big Problems With a Small Lot in Glen Ridge

A group of concerned Glen Ridge residents have formed the Winsor Place Preservation Committee, to strategize stopping the development of what they consider a too-small partially empty lot on the street.

The property, located at 11 Winsor Place, is just 50 feet wide and is now on the market, and prospective buyers would be able to build a home on it.

Because this area is in a historic zone of Glen Ridge, according to tipsters, the situation is creating an uproar among neighbors, many of whom own nearby Victorians and other early 1900 period homes and are concerned about maintaining the historical integrity of the neighborhood. Some worry the Glen Ridge Historic Preservation Commmision – despite its reputation for tough standards – may not be able to exercise enough control over the aesthetics of any house that may be built. Even so, squeezing a house into such a small lot still rankles some for other reasons.

The property in question is currently listed for sale by the Livingston office of Weichert, Realtors, Inc., for $329,000, with a lot size of 50 by 160 feet. The online listing includes this description:

“Rarely available lot in Glen Ridge. Plans coming for 3,500+ square foot house with an 800 square foot third floor and 1, 600 square foot basement with 9ft ceiilings. Build your own dream house or have us take care of it !! This flat lot has an existing two car tandem garage and wide driveway, see topographical survey which includes building envelope.”

Photo credit: Hayley Krischer

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  1. Enough with the class warfare! Thomas is in Bloomfield. Just go up the Hill to Hillside and you’ll find many lots less than 50F wide. Some are as small as 33 x 112.

  2. Sorry Geoff, I don’t understand your message’s intent. Can you restate it? Check out both lots on Winsor, 7 and 11 are similar situations. Does building on really small lots a midst bigger lots constitute class warfare?

  3. Hey Mark, I know the spot well and agree with you. We need a ‘less is more’ building philosophy to take hold.

  4. I love how the realtor’s photos are taken at such extreme angles to try and hide how small the lot is. The other house is right up to the edge of the property but it’s not shown at all in any of the photos.

    Also, the property is a long strip but the drawing on the realtor’s site showing the property size makes it look much more square than it truly is. It says 50′ by 160′, but the proportions in the picture are more like 50′ by 100′. It may be a result of how the picture is uploaded, but it sure is deceptive.

    You can get a better idea of size from above…

  5. I’d love to see the final design. Obviously, the adjacent neighbors would prefer open space to a new construction. The oversized mansions seem very close to the property lines, Wonder if one of them had it subdivided.

  6. If it has an existing “wide driveway”, lets say 10′ wide, that would make the lot more of a 40′ wide. Take into consideration that you cannot butt up to the home on the other side and we are really at 30′ wide? It would make sense to turn the garage into a shed and build a townhouse on the lot with a built in garage. I don’t see anything wrong with this though, if they can adhere to the aesthetics of the neighborhood in their design. Although with a lot being 329k just for the land, I can’t imagine the house they build on that lot being worth its value

  7. Obviously someone can’t afford or doesn’t want to pay the taxes on that extra piece of property. When your new neighbor sneezes will you remember to say… Gesundheit?

  8. Yeah hrh, isn’t it amazing? At first I though it didn’t even include the driveway or garage. The property does go back a ways though.

    I agree with PAZ, I imagine this lot was originally part of the property that we can’t see in the pictures. The google picture shows a garden leading to the garage.

    Maybe they can build a Being John Malkovich size house…

  9. Geoff, while the house to the left (the current owner of the property) is sizable, characterizing either house as an “oversized mansion” is not accurate.

    Yes, the lot in question is currently a driveway and a patch of grass, subdivided from a contiguous property. Could a tall and thin house really squeeze in that skinny space? Yes, barely. Is it in the best interest of the neighborhood? Nope.

  10. Mark, when you say current owner of the property is on the left, is that as you face the property from the street?

  11. Geoff,

    Same street – “Winsor” in GR, “Windsor” in Bloomield. The 2 #11’s are a few lots away from each other.

  12. My lot in Montclair is 50′ wide. I don’t remember any uproar when I bought the place. That size is pretty typical where I live.

  13. So, (apologies in advance to Geoff and my other Bloomfield friends) Glen Ridge will approve a very skinny reproduction Victorian, and Bloomfield will approve a 3 family townhouse with parking for 8 cars.

  14. Kit, I’m not offended, and I live in Bloomfield very close to both lots. Even if my house was in Glen Ridge I would still be more concerened about the potentinal monstrosity that could be put on the Bloomfield lot and its effect on the entire street and area, Bloomfield or Glen Ridge.

  15. Looks like it’s WINSOR PL. (without the D) all the way through – according to my view of the street sign from my porch. Confarbulating.

    State St. Pete: Yes, I think so. Looking at the house. I’m not 100 percent certain however.

    Kit: As a Bloomfielder, that is not offensive; merely accurate.

  16. Hey – My GR home sits on a 50×160 lot along with those of my neighbors. I know of a number of friends homes in the south end of GR with smaller lots than this. Maybe a 3500+SF home seems a bit excessive for a site of this size, but my modest 2300SF home fits just fine on our lot. We even have a decent sized front and year yard.

  17. Carl and Kit, thanks for the clarifications. Wouldn’t the subdivision zoning allow for the building of a structure up to a stated size within setback requirements? 50 x150 lots in Bloomfield’s desirable Brookdale section would be considered oversized.

  18. Geoff, the answer is probably, but it depends on what the setbacks are zoned for on that site, or the property owner could seek a variance. I believe the setbacks change in different neighborhoods. In my own neighborhood, the existing houses wouldn’t be allowed anymore under current setback requirements.

    Neighbors can (and I believe should) go to the planning or zoning board meeting and object if the property owner is seeking a variance. Everyone living within 250 feet of the change is supposed to be notified.

  19. Our house in Brookdale was on a 50′ x 150′ lot. We got used to sitting out on the back deck and not looking to the sides…

  20. Let the Christopher Court developer create the plans for that lot. They could easily get two 3500sf homes in that space.

  21. Soooo…. looking at the overhead that State Street Pete posted….this property consists of the driveway which ends at the tandem garage, that brick colored parking area which has a car parked on it in the photo, and that little landscaped area… the lot is sloped down to the right if you are facing it from the street… um. Does the house to the left not have its own driveway? If it’s a shared driveway, then that does indeed leave 40′ for building, not including setback rules and % coverage. With that sloping lot maybe they are planning a townhome style garage-below setup (a’la The New Urban Look!). Otherwise I would think 3500 ft2 is mighty ambitious. And they will have a lot of site work to do in order to manage the runoff!

    BTW I don’t see an 11 Winsor on the tax records, only 9 and 13. So looking again at the Google map, it seems to me like “11” is actually the garage for the house on the left, and they are subdividing. (or trying to.)

    ps. I speak from experience, it totally stinks when your exterior walls are 8 feet (or less) from those of your neighbor !!!

  22. Kay – the builder has taken the driveway and garage from the existing home and included that in the new lot size in order to achieve the 50’ width. This does leave the existing home with no driveway – I’m sure that will help its resale. I can only assume they plan on widening the existing driveway to allow for shared use which would result in perhaps 25 – 30ft for the new home (allowing for setbacks). I’ll reserve judgment until I see the plans but I don’t see how they can possibly shoehorn a 3500 sq/ft home on this site….unless of course it’s 30 stories tall.

  23. How about this: If the two next door neighbors object to this project, how about they buy the lot and then divide it in half and add to their existing properties? If the whole block doesn’t want a house there, then everyone should chip in and buy the lot and make a community garden/park there. Granted – the taxes would still have to get paid, maintenance, etc.. But – – if no one wants to come in and buy the lot and keep it empty – THEN let the free market do its job!! Let someone build as big a house as they want, and as big as the law allows. If it looks horrible then no one will buy it and the capitalist system works!!

  24. You are not allowed to park on the street overnight in GR. If 11gives up it’s driveway, they can sneak down to Blmfld to park.

  25. Many lots smaller than this in GR. Wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t for the neighbors on Winsor, obviously. #NIMBY

    Get over yourselves, Ridgeroos.

  26. Mark,

    By golly – I just checked and you are correct – those new green signs on the Bloomfield side of the line do say Winsor (no D) – the old blue ones said Windsor.


    A) The old blue ones were wrong.
    B) The new green ones are wrong.
    C) Bloomfield changed the name of the street to match GR.

    The votor rolls are of no help – slightly more Bloomfield voters are registered on Windsor than on Winsor, but only a few more.

    The maps from the state and on the Bloomfield Website don’t list all but a few major streets, but The county tax database supports the “No D” argument – all the Bloomfild tax records I could find spell it with no D.

    Mapquest has it as Windsor in Bloomfield and Winsor in GR – but Google has it as Winsor in both.

    As I understand it, the street (at least the GR portion) was named after someone named Winsor, so perhaps the old blue ones were a mistake (an understandable one – Winsor appears to be an uncommon spelling – for example – all the other similarly named Places in Essex County (in Essex Fells, Montclair & Nutley) are spelled Windsor).

    I’ll do some more research tomorrow – I seem to remember the GR Voice had a cartoon about it a while back – I’ll give my friend Jon Russo a call and see what he knows. I might also stop by Bloomfield Town Hall and look at the tax maps.

  27. Kit,

    Our nabe is zoned the same as 11 Winsor – R2.

    I don’t have enough information to know whether a variance would be required, but from what I see, I would guess yes – if so, as you said, neighbors would have to be notified (I’m pretty sure it’s 200 feet – not 250) when it came before (most likely) the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

  28. Geoff,

    As I just said to Kit, I don’t have enough information to give a definite answer, but I would guess that they would need a variance – at least for the driveway. I don’t recall off the top of my head what the lot requirements are in R3, but I think it’s something like 50×100, so the might be ok on that front.

    Of course, all of Winsor is in the Historic District, so they absolutely will need to go before the HPC for approval.

  29. PAZ – you can’t do that in many parts of Bloomfield anymore – they put in overnight permit parking on many of the streets that adjoin GR…

  30. I agree with Kit “go to the planning or zoning board meeting and object if the property owner is seeking a variance”

  31. Ahhhh… Mayor Carl…. have I told you lately how much I want you to come to Montclair?? puhlllleeeeezzzeeee! sighhhhh

    ps. If I lived next door to that lot, I would do just about anything necessary in my budget to split it with the neighbor, and gain on an extra 25 feet of side yard to my house. Whoo hoo, No Question! Ya know, Elbow Room, man! Put in a few buddleia shrubs on that slope, and then sit back and watch the butterfly show!

  32. As a general statement, we have dense residential building all over this part of NJ. The town should be able to enforce minimum set backs and land vs building ratios. Ironically, Montclair is considering even more density with residential expansion permited for additions to rent-out. Someone should address the asthestics of all this.

  33. My home on the Montclair/Glen Ridge border is 90 years old and on a 50′ wide 110′ deep lot. Seems like plenty of space to me. Oh well.

  34. 50 feet wide is indeed a nice width, but it all depends on the driveways (if any) and placement of the neighbor’s house. The lot at our first place in Mtc was about 40′ wide, with about 6 feet from the house footprint on one side and 8 feet on the driveway side. Unfortunately, the neighbor’s house footprint was *right on* the property line along the driveway. (That drive was was really tight!) The building on the other side was set back all the way to its far property line so at least it wasn’t on top of us up front, but it sure was claustrophobic having their second story looming over us whenever we were out in the backyard. Now, we still have about 6-8 feet between us and the neighbor… but on the driveway side we lucked out simply due to configuration! 🙂 What a relief!!

    My childhood SoCal home neighborhood had around 20-30 feet between footprints, breathing room. The density here was probably the hardest adjustment for me!

  35. Mark,

    I didn’t get a chance to go over to Bloomfield Town Hall, but I have a call in to Jon Russo (GR Voice Cartoonist).


    You always say the nicest things – thanks!


    Mine is also 90 or so and on an apx. 38×88 lot, and it’s quite lovely – the devil is in the details. In GR, we take our Historic District and Zoning responsibilities and the public input at those hearings quite seriously, that generally does a good job of keeping things balanced.

    We shall see what happens, hopefully another ratable that is an asset to the neighborhood…

  36. If the right laws to preserve the visual landscape of the town are not established or enforced, this…. https://www.baristanetnew.wpengine.com/2012/08/a-house-goes-up-on-walnut-street-in-montclair/#comment-305899 could happen. Whoever wishes to live in a community like Glen Ridge should respect the towns beautiful and irreplaceable value. If an individual wishes to be creative and feel free to do whatever they desire to their house without respecting the established landscape, they should choose to live where anything goes without doing harm to a harmonious neighborhood. Good Luck to this neighborhood at risk.

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