UDO to Address Student Housing

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As student housing continues to be a hot topic, the Raleigh City Council approved a measure Tuesday to have the Planning Department to work with the city attorney to address the issue through the new zoning code, also known as the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).

“There’s a long legal history as it relates to student housing,” said Chief Planner Mitchell Silver. “That’s why we have to work very closely with city attorney’s office.”

Unlike dormitory, sorority and fraternity housing, student housing isn’t a defined legal term, which makes it hard to regulate. Students who are not living in a dorm-like setting could be living in rented apartments and rented single-family homes.

Since municipalities can’t create separate regulations for different groups of people, like students, they have to be creative when implementing certain laws or codes.

“You cannot treat students any differently than a normal citizen,” Silver said. “However, you can regulate parking and you can regulate the number of individuals living in a home.”

The proposed UDO addresses student housing by way of parking regulations. The new code would prohibit private streets in multi-unit developments, allowing the city to post no parking signs or regulate congestion. The new code would also regulate and increase the number of resident and visitor parking spaces required for each unit.

At the city council’s Budget and Economic Development meeting April 26, Mayor Charles Meeker suggested issuing a special use permit and encouraging more development closer to the university. Silver responded that a special use permit would have to be tied to a zoning district and some research would have to be done to confirm that it would be legal.

Councilman Thomas Crowder said in his research, he found that there are other municipalities dealing with the student housing problem using special districts and creating a definition for student housing.

“I’m having a hard time understanding why we can not do the same for this dormitory-style housing specifically targeted and marketed to students,” Crowder said.

Silver provided the committee with a list of Supreme Court cases, citing the problems municipalities have had when trying to regulate student housing. Kirch v. Prince Georges County, for example, overturned a restriction on the amount of off-campus housing. He said more research would have to be done for areas that Crowder had suggested.

Mary Bell Pate was the only member of the public to speak against student housing at the meeting.

“When the students live in our neighborhoods they turn the garages into their party rooms,” she said adding that there is plenty of land around the schools that developers could use to build housing for students. “It’s very frustrating that powerful companies come in and destroy neighborhoods.”

The catalyst for the discussion was the Stanhope Development that was approved in 2008. The mixed-use high-rise building near Hillsborough Street is being built to accommodate about 1,000 students.

A rendering of the Stanhope Development, which will house 1,000 students.

While the development was finally approved, it was not without opposition from the community.

“The public was saying we encourage dormitory-style housing, like Stanhope,” Silver explained. “But then there was community opposition to Stanhope.”

He went on to say that the there will need to be more discussion with the public to find out why there was a push against the development.

“That’s the mixed message that developers have been watching,” he said adding that some developers no longer want to do business in Raleigh.

Another issue is regulating behavior. At the committee meeting Crowder said that many of these students are moving off campus so that they aren’t bound by the rules of the college.

“Typically, there’s a small percentage of students who do not behave appropriately,” said Silver. “The question typically is do you want to regulate student housing because there are five, 10 or 20 students living in homes that are really a bad example for the hundreds of hundreds [that have] no complaints?”

6 thoughts on “UDO to Address Student Housing

  1. Dear Mr. Silver,
    I can’t believe that your memory is that short after all the conversations that we had during the approval process. I really liked your comment, “there will need to be more discussion with the public to find out why there was a push against the development.”

    You know exactly why there was opposition. The only push against the proposed development was that it didn’t match the Stanhope Small Area Plan (SAP). The proposed student center and deck did not match in any way to the Stanhope SAP that many people had worked very hard at trying to find a compromise. There was not supposed to be any parking deck on Stanhope Ave. It was supposed to have an apartment type building. There was supposed to be a road behind the building with a green space in front of the student center for both the students and the neighborhood to use. Now there will be a road in the green space.

    Where did this number of 1,000 students come from in the article? According to SP-125, it was supposed to be a 102 foot tall 277 unit multi-family building with 375,431 square feet, containing 167 four bedroom units, 40 three bedroom units and 70 two bedroom units for a total of 928 bedrooms. Where did the additional 72 rooms come from?

    I want to thank the city for posting the article by Ariella Monti on May 4, 2011. I was wondering why the article called the picture “a rendering of the Stanhope Development, which will house 1,000 students”. The picture is of the parking deck and will not house any students unless they live in the business offices. It is misleading because the deck is only 5 levels above ground where the student center building will be at least 10 stories.

    Will someone (i.e. Mitchell Silver or Ariella Monti) respond to my questions?

    Thank you for giving the public a place to comment.
    Peggy Seymore, 3125 Stanhope Ave since 1993

  2. Ariella,
    I did not realize until after I sent my email that you are not connected with the City of Raleigh or at least I think that is what I could tell. I thought that you were with the City and that is why I sent my comments to Mr. Silver.

    I do appreciate you haviing a place for the neighborhoods to vent their frustration with how the city staff approves projects.

  3. Why is the student parking garage being shown as the student housing in your article? The housing that was unfortunately approved is over 10 stories, what you are showing is the monstrous parking deck that will be on our residential street.

    And Mr. Silver’s comment: “…there will need to be more discussion with the public to find out why there was a push against the development.”

    I hope he isn’t serious. He knows exactly why we opposed this project, it was way out of scope when compared to the Stanhope SAP (Small Area Plan). The parking garage was to be placed underground and away from our neighborhood. Instead, it now will be inside our neighborhood, but only after they tore down homes to accommodate it.

    Mr. Silver, if you are still confused as to why the neighbors oppose a prison-like parking garage next door to our single story, historic, craftsman homes, if you don’t understand why we are upset that the housing is something like 50% bigger than originally discussed, then why don’t you come over some afternoon so we can speak face to face. We promise to talk real slow so you can understand.

    -Mac Cady

  4. Ariella,
    Will you email me? Or will you send me a phone number to reach you?

    According to your article, it looks like you have quoted Mr. Silver.
    “The public was saying we encourage dormitory-style housing, like Stanhope,” Silver explained. “But then there was community opposition to Stanhope.”

    He went on to say that the there will need to be more discussion with the public to find out why there was a push against the development.

    I received an email from him when I sent him what I submitted in my first comments above. He responded with the following:
    Ms. Seymore,
    My interview with Ms. Monti was extensive and covered a lot of topics. We discussed the City’s land use recommendations encourage student housing closer to campus. There has been community opposition to student projects near NC State Campus. My comment was in general and not limited to the Stanhope project. I have no control over what a report decides to quote.
    Mitchell Silver, AICP, PP
    My question to you is “Were those Mr. Silver’s exact words in your May 4, 2011 article?”
    Hoping that you read the comments and that I will hear from you.

  5. I believe that my quote from Mr. Silver is correct. We were talking extensively about student housing, which was the basis for the article. Stanhope was an example of a current student housing issue, but not the main focus. I can’t speak for Mr. Silver’s quote as his opinions are his own, but this is what was told to me.

    The rendering of the project came from the planning department and was not labeled. To our knowledge it was a rendering of the housing.

  6. Neighbors living adjacent to NC State’s campus need to accept that student’s want to live close by, and dense development is what’s appropriate for the future of this area. Why would you live adjacent to NC State’s campus, and a block from Hillsborough Street, yet oppose development for students. These selfish neighbors enjoy the benefits of the university area, but don’t want to accept that many student’s would like to live nearby. On-street parking and traffic issues can be worked out, but the underlying plan is very appropriate for the future of this area.