By Dennis Mitchell
Over the last few weeks in our community, people have been embroiled in a debate over whether or not to keep the current policy of allowing no more than 3 unrelated people to live in a single-family home. After meeting with groups and individuals to hear their arguments surrounding the rule, I realized there was an important piece missing from the dialogue: a focus on the true issues in the university area neighborhood — crime, parking and neighborhood deterioration.
The university area can and should be a safe environment for professionals, students and homeowners to live, work and play. Each of these groups’ needs must shape how we go forward with creating policy for the area.
Data on crime, parking issues and continued neighborhood deterioration shows the long-standing rule of 3 has not effectively curbed those problems, at least on its own. The real debate should be focused on how we can improve crime, parking and neighborhood deterioration, not whether we should keep a policy in place.
To transform the university area back into a safe and beautiful community, I propose the creation of a Neighborhood Preservation Zone, encompassing the entire Tar River-university neighborhood area (TRUNA). Creating a crime-free rental program, regulating all on-street parking, and better defining the occupancy code, all detailed below, will allow us to focus on improving the area’s problems.
– a privilege license or special use permit to rent property.
– a local property manager responsible for operation and maintenance of each licensed property.
– local property manager’s attendance at a city-approved crime-free rental housing training.
– initial inspection, and inspection every two years, to ensure compliance with the maintenance code, to be written by city staff with collaboration from the Neighborhood Advisory Board, Property Managers Association and local realtors.
The crime-free rental housing program would be enforced through daily fines for landlords not adhering to the standards, with revocation of the privilege license for outstanding or repeat offenders.
– Create resident-only parking zones in densely populated areas where streets are narrow.
– Issue permits for commuter zones.
– Allow for a small amount of visitor parking, where feasible.
– No more than 3 unrelated individuals can reside in a single-family home.
– An administrative exception can be given for a fourth unrelated resident when there are at least 4 original bedrooms in a house, according to tax records IF
— the house meets a minimum square foot requirement to be determined by input from Neighborhood Advisory Board, Property Managers Association and local realtors AND
— has at least two full and functional bathrooms AND
— has on-site parking covering no more than 30% of the front and 30% of the back yards AND
— meets efficiency standards, to be written by Public Works and the Environmental Advisory Board, within a year of administrative exception.
Already one of our city’s few communities fully served by greenways, sidewalks, parks, cultural outlets and shopping within walking distance, TRUNA could be further developed by adding several small neighborhood parks to encourage families to settle in the area. A small whole foods or natural food store and coffee house within the neighborhood would create a walkable community atmosphere.
The creation of the city’s first Neighborhood Preservation Zone will ensure the sustainability and viability of the area. This is only a starting point and can only work if landlords and investors are strictly held accountable through high fines and loss of ability to rent for not adhering to principles of the zone. My plan puts neighborhoods and homeowners first while recognizing the importance of providing safe, first class rental properties for students and professionals. It lays the framework to achieve decreased crime, reduce parking issues and curb further deterioration of the neighborhood.
As always, feel free to email me suggestions or questions at email@example.com.
Dennis Mitchell is the at-large representative on the Greenville City Council.
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This entry was posted on Saturday, August 4th, 2012 at 2:30 am and filed under City News, Feature, Op-Ed, Opinion and tagged with 3 unrelated, city council, crime, Dennis Mitchell, Greenville NC, neighborhood preservation, neighborhoods, parking. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.