Student housing rentals may see some changes in regards to rental permits beginning next year.
On Tuesday night, the State College Borough Council held a work session to discuss new rental housing ordinances that can affect student housing rentals in the borough.
Planning Director Carl Hess said that he and his staff worked diligently to make amendments that will be adopted in 2013.
The 14-page report, available in full online, outlines the proposed amendments to regulate and improve one and two family housing units in State College.
Hess said the planning staff came up with using a housing license than using a renewable permit, giving the ability to enforce rental regulations.
The residential zones affected will be R-1, R-2 and R-3 housing zones, a substantial portion of State College, he said.
Hess said that houses will be determined to be a student house, and will be enforced under Pennsylvania law, not on local decisions.
A point made by Hess included a late fee of the full value of the permit if late, which stemmed from current concerns of late permits that are well over 30 days overdue.
He said that under the new amendments, if homeowners do not renew their permit on time, they must start the whole permit process over again, because it would be a sign of intent to abandon the property.
Hess said that the borough has to keep in mind the Pennsylvania zoning ordinances for the new amendments and it is a circumstance of licenses and permits versus property rights.
Under the Nuisance Property Ordinance, Hess is giving more flexibility in amending it, and has reduced the rental permit suspension from 10 points to nine points and has changed multiple violations from two points to three, including noise violations and disorderly conduct.
Under the Nuisance Property Ordinance, there will be more clarity on how violators are found and increase the consequences for those who violate them.
Peg Hambrick of State College spoke on behalf of the State College Coalition of Neighborhood Associations and made remarks the proposed zoning amendments, and starting off saying that the Coalition is “not against students.”
Hambrick said the trend of studentification of neighborhoods, which has lead to State College to be the only municipality in the Centre region to have a decrease in families and how the fiscal health of the community has decreased over the years because of the increase of student housing.
Hambrick said that the Coalition wants to be a part of the solution to “keep State College a good community” and wants an opportunity to present their plans before council so their voice will be heard before the final budget is released.
Planning Commission Chairman Evan Myers presented the planning commission’s report and discussed the feedback on the recent downtown master plan.
Myers said they received good feedback from the community, and it presents a huge opportunity for downtown.
He said they need to take into account the failures of the west end project and how to avoid those issues, such as the costs of time, money and effort, to help move the project forward.
The possibility of compiling a database of where all student homes are was brought up, and Myers said it might help to reconsider different properties for rezoning.
The 2013 operating budget was also distributed to council members at the end of the work session, and Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said he was pleased with the outcome of it.
He said the general fund budget is balanced and there are no tax increases that are directly used to fund the budget.
None of the revenues and expenditures increased significantly, he said.
The budget is available online in the Schlow Centre Region Library or in the municipal building for the community to view and comment.
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