Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Williamsburg City Council Addresses High Occupancy of Rental Houses Near W&M

A map of neighborhoods outside of the College of William & Mary with 4 person rental properties. (Courtesy of the City of Williamsburg)

WILLIAMSBURG — During its monthly meeting on Aug. 12, the Williamsburg City Council voted in favor of a three-year moratorium on a city zoning ordinance that made it possible for four unrelated people to live in a single-family unattached dwelling.

The moratorium, which was approved unanimously by the five-person council, will effectively pause the city from issuing new certificates of occupancy to homeowners seeking to put four individuals on one lease for single-family rental properties.

There were around thirty people present for the meeting. Residents from the neighborhoods surrounding the College of William & Mary got up to speak during the public hearing. Of those who spoke, all but one were in favor of the measure. Many of the residents stated that dwellings with multiple individuals on the lease were occupied by students from the College.  These residencies were prone to having noise complaints issued late at night. Neighbors also complained about the properties becoming unsightly.

The residents who were in favor of the moratorium also noted that the number of rental properties sky rocketed since 2010 when the City Council passed zoning ordinance No. 21-07, that allowed the city to grant permits for four-person leasing agreements.

Homeowner Bill Carr referred to the ordinance as an experiment when he addressed the Council.

“The experiment that began in 2010, when the City Council allowed for unrelated individuals to live in houses, has wreaked havoc on various neighborhood adjacent to the college,” Carr said. “All due to financial incentives. Or more directly put, more money for landlords.”

Many of  the residents called on the College to do more in regards to housing students and making efforts to keep them on campus.

William & Mary student, Cody Armstrong, was the only person to address the council in opposition to the moratorium. He stated that options for suitable and affordable student housing were limited, even on campus. He also said that the moratorium does nothing to fix what he identified as the problem.

“Let’s work on solutions to get better parking,” Armstrong said during the hearing. “Let’s work on solutions to incentivize students to be better in these neighborhoods, lets incentivize landlords to take better care of their properties.”

While the council unanimously approved the moratorium, it did make an amendment that the moratorium could be ended prior to the prescribed three-years if steps were taken to fix current problems with rental properties in the city.

WYDaily will continue to follow this developing story.

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