Oct 262009
Authors: Matt Minich

After months of heated debate among residents and students over the terms of the city’s controversial occupancy ordinance, Fort Collins City Council will conduct a two-year comprehensive review of 3-Unrelated tonight at its public work session.

The ordinance, which mandates that no more than three unrelated persons share a Fort Collins home, has been adamantly and vocally opposed by the CSU student population at large since enforcement began in 2007.

The council will discuss potential changes to the ordinance, which include:

/ Zoning more areas to allow for “extra occupancy homes,” to which the ordinance is currently not applicable

/ Altering zoning laws to allow for the construction of sorority/fraternity lodges, and

/ Abolishing the ordinance altogether.

The council did not place student government’s proposal to expand the ordinance to U+3 on the agenda. Rather, students’ suggestions can be seen in the zoning changes, which have been “at the heart” of their discussions with the council since 2007, said Courtney Sullivan, the Associated Students of CSU director of Community Affairs.

“City staff has taken our proposal into consideration,” Sullivan said.

In addition to the potential zoning changes, council members will discuss alterations to the definition of over-occupancy. According to the agenda, that definition will be changed to allow for a single family and one additional person to share a residence.

The City Council will also examine comments from several public forums and roundtables over the past two years as well as a report from the independent Denver company Corona Research, which was hired by the council in 2005 to evaluate the effects of the ordinance’s enforcement.

The report, which was presented to the council in August, found that the number of violator households has decreased and neighborhood quality of life has improved since enforcement of the ordinance began.

ASCSU has ramped up its efforts to influence the council in recent weeks, compiling thousands of letters opposing the ordinance and organizing a student boycott of Old Town last Friday.

Fort Collins realtors, property owners and neighbors have matched student opposition to the ordinance. Greater community members regularly pleaded with the council at public hearing sessions to maintain the ordinance, which they argue protects property values and neighborhood quality of life.

Immediately after the conclusion of the council’s discussion on the ordinance, ASCSU will meet to plan their future actions opposing the ordinance, Sullivan said.

“It doesn’t end with tomorrow.”

Senior Reporter Matt Minich can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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