Hamden to decide on university zone

Tara O'Neill

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There will be changes for students looking to live off campus if Hamden’s Planning and Zoning Commission chooses to approve the six proposed amendments on student housing, according to a proposal presented by the Planning and Zoning Committee.

Most of the amendments are minor but one of the amendments discusses a “university zone” that would include a majority of New Road and the entirety of Lucien Drive, as well as the area of Woodruff Street to Renshaw Road.

“The university zone is something the university put forward,” Sal Filardi, vice president of facilities and capital planning said.

Filardi said the main reason the university wanted this university zone was to establish universal zoning requirements for university-owned property.

The zone would include 75 properties, 59 of which are owned by the university, according to the proposal. The 16 remaining properties are privately-owned. Eleven of those are private residences, two are used for student housing, two are commercial sites and one is a multi-family house that is rented out to the university.

The purpose of the zone is to create alternative living space for students in single-family houses in residential neighborhoods, according to the proposal. The zone is also meant to create a safe area for students to shop, live and eat within a close distance to the university. The intent of the zone is also to encourage the growth of businesses in Hamden.

Junior Allison Hoover said she doesn’t think this will make a difference for students.

“That’s a good idea if it would make our relationship better [between Quinnipiac and Hamden],” Hoover said, “but I think that people are going to want to go where they want to go, so if they don’t want to live on those roads, they’re going to find another house, whether it’s through Quinnipiac or not.”

Multi-family housing, accessory apartments, dormitories, retails, single-family housing, funeral homes, and office and service establishments are all permitted uses of the zone, the proposal states.

Filardi said he believed the way the university zone was presented at the Planning and Zoning meeting was to show that the zone was going to help solve the problem in town. But, Filardi said the university already owns most of the area in the proposed zone.

“I don’t really see how [the university zone] solves the problem at all,” Filardi said.

Rather than create this university zone, Filardi said the town of Hamden should propose areas that students cannot live in.

“If they could identify residential zones that exist that would be off-limits to student housing, we think that would be helpful,” Filardi said.

Junior Jonathan Lemeau believes that the university zone would lead to an easier commute for students, and less problems with Hamden.

“I’ve heard that a lot of neighbors are complaining about us about parties and other things,” Lemeau said. I think it’s a good idea to have everyone closer to campus. It is more convenient for the students and less of a problem [for Hamden].”

Assistant Town Planner Dan Kops told the New Haven Register that the commission will consider a proposal to extend the housing permit moratorium for student housing until Jan. 15, 2016. Initially, the expiration for the moratorium was Nov. 15 but it will be extended to include the new proposed amendments.

Another proposed amendment prohibits the use of indoor furniture outdoors.

“Interior-type furniture, such as upholstered couches and chairs or other fabric-covered articles are not intended for outdoor use and shall not be placed outside the house except on a covered porch,” the proposed amendment states.

Filardi said this ordinance is “kind of silly.”

Two other proposed amendments would allow the town’s zoning enforcement officer to survey student housing permit applications about parking or the location of parking. The two amendments would also cancel the requirement that the building official needed to sign off on applications for student housing.

Some of the other proposed amendments suggest the town tightens the requirements for student housing permits. One amendment requires no new permit be issued for a one-unit, two-unit or three-unit house unless the owner of the house lives at the property.

“Student housing is permitted in one-, two- or three-unit dwelling units buildings only if the building is the permanent residence of the owner of the property, verified each year by a notarized affidavit certifying that the property is the owner’s primary residence,” the proposed amendment states.

The proposal defines a permanent resident as someone who lives in the house for at least 10 out of the 12 months in a year. Any landlord would be required to submit a notarized affidavit to certify they live there with every renewal application.

“That’s fine with two- and three-family houses,” Filardi said. “But no one-family house is occupied by the owner and rented to students. If you’re renting out a single room, okay—maybe. But that’s not the issue in town. The issue is that there are entire homes rented to students in residential neighborhoods.”

Landlords would be required to include a copy of the Student Housing Permit Renewal Packet or Housing Permit Application Packet with each signed lease. The students would be required to sign a form saying they read and agree to follow the town’s Student Resource Information Sheet for Off-Campus Residential Living.

The remaining amendments focus on parking availability and changes as well as the elimination of the building official’s approval on new student housing applications, according to the proposal.

The approval for each amendment does not rely on the approval of any of the other amendments.

A public hearing for official approval of the amendments will be held sometime in December, before the expiration of the Jan. 15 deadline.

Overall, Filardi said he doesn’t think the proposed amendments are necessary.

“I think it’s interesting, but I didn’t see anything necessary in there,” Filardi said.