Town of Somerset council members stuck by the town code Monday night during a discussion about building setbacks.
After the house at 4812 Falstone Avenue has been demolished, a new house will be built with a footprint set several feet farther back from the street than that of the original house.
The setback—which will help preserve an American Beech tree at the front of the property—will make the property's rear yard a little shorter, but it won't violate any setback rules in the town code.
Rear setbacks are set at a minimum of 20 feet, while the rear yard of 4812 Falstone is about 40 feet deep, said Larry Plummer, town engineer for the Town of Somerset.
But, an oak tree in the rear of the property led William Kingdom—whose property is adjacent to the rear property line of 4812 Falstone Avenue—to question the setback. He asked council members if it was appropriate—and perhaps precedent-setting—to place the well-being of the American Beech above that of the oak tree, or to value the beech tree above the backyard space.
Nevertheless, "if this were a blank lot, this setback would be well within our local rules," Town of Somerset Council Member Franny Peale said. "[All] I’m hearing is a dispute about how deep the house should go in the back yard, and unfortunately, it’s well within the rear setback," she added.
Tolbert Feather, the town's arborist, assured council members and meeting attendees that moving the house's footprint back by several feet would not endanger the backyard oak tree, and that there would still be enough room for the tree's roots.
The new home was designed to accommodate both the beech and the oak tree, 4812 Falstone Ave. property owner Anne Hawkins said.
Hawkins added that no rodents had been caught in traps on the property during the required test for rodents.