ST. PAUL NOTES | Battle over St. Thomas student housing returns to city council May 4

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Just as the school year is winding down, the battle over student rentals near the University of St. Thomas is winding up again. Friday (May 4) the St. Paul City Council Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on a proposed Student Housing Neighborhood Impact Overlay District ordinance, which would limit student rentals. That’s the next step in a process that began in 2011, with still more steps stretching out over the next couple of months:

Timeline for the potential adoption of the proposed Student Housing Neighborhood Impact Overlay District ordinance:

May 4, 2012: Planning Commission public hearing

May 9, 2012: The Neighborhood Committee meets, reviews public hearing comments and makes recommendation to the Planning Commission

May 18, 2012: The Planning Commission considers the Neighborhood Committee’s recommendation; potentially could approve ordinance and forward it to City Council for review/consideration/adoption

June 6, 2012: 1st City Council reading of the proposed ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission

June 13, 2012: 2nd City Council reading of the proposed ordinance

June 20, 2012: 3rd City Council reading of the proposed ordinance and public hearing

June 27, 2012: 4th and final City Council reading of the proposed ordinance

July 3, 2012: Legal ledger publication of approved ordinance

August 3, 2012: Ordinance effective date

August 11, 2012: Moratorium expiration 

The ordinance would say that, within the affected area, no new student dwellings would be allowed unless the house is at least 150 feet away from the nearest existing student rental. A “student dwelling” is defined as a one- or two-family home with at least three students renting a unit. (That’s the short story — click here for the full legalese.)

Complaints about student drinking, partying, noise and congestion are chronic. In the resolution authorizing the just-concluded study, the council said that:

The Council further finds that because college students tend generally to occupy homes for periods shorter than typical for occupants of owner-occupied homes, the student-tenants of these homes are highly likely to have a different lifestyle and outlook towards property stewardship and neighborhood living than do “nontransient” or more “permanent” neighborhood residents who largely, it is assumed, reside either in owner occupied homes or are long-term renters.