Students, landlords reiterate concerns

bfortune@herald-leader.comOctober 6, 2009 

Students and landlords filled the council chambers at city hall Monday to complain that trying to limit the density of student housing in a neighborhood would be unreasonable and unfair.

"The recommendation that only every third house be student housing is unworkable," said landlord John Roberts.

Setting density limits sends a "bad message" to students that they are "unwelcome" in the community, said University of Kentucky graduate student Stephen Marshall. He urged rejection of that idea.

The protesters spoke to the Urban County Council planning committee as it held its last day of public hearings on the Student Housing Task Force report. The report was unveiled Sept. 8.

The task force outlined strategies to diminish the collective effects of "dense student housing" with associated problems of litter, noise, parking, demolition by neglect of housing stock and alcohol abuse.

One recommendation is for establishing a density standard. Most university communities have found if half or less of housing in a neighborhood is occupied by undergraduate students, problems are lessened sufficiently to attract single-family homeowners to live in the area, the report stated.

The recommendation calls for periodic safety inspections of the properties by the city.

Most of those who spoke against the inspections believed that rental units would be inspected each time they changed occupants. But Councilwoman Diane Lawless, a task force member, said an inspection time line has not been established. "We discussed inspecting units every three years," but it could be even longer, she said.

Homeowner Kate Savage requested that UK representatives come before the committee to discuss problems created by off-campus student housing. "Where are the people who make decisions at UK who can engage with us?" she said.

Chairwoman Linda Gorton said UK representatives are being invited to the next Planning Committee meeting at 1 p.m. Oct. 20. She said she doubted that President Lee Todd would come, though at least one person on Monday specifically made that request.

Gorton said she hopes that the committee will agree to forward to council eight recommendations they consider "no-brainers," to tweak or tighten existing housing regulations.

Reach Beverly Fortune at (859) 231-3251 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3251

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