GENESEO – Village resident and current sitting Justice Kathleen Houston appeared at Monday night’s Village Board meeting as a concerned Village resident to ask if anything can be done about the increased student housing slowly encroaching over the Village.
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Justice Houston said that although she knows many local landlords personally and gets that they have businesses and livelihoods to maintain, it is sad to see so many historic residences go up for rent as college housing, and moreover if the trend continues it could cost Geneseo its historic designation.
“I’m concerned that the integrity of the Village is falling to student housing,” said Justice Houston. “If it can be called a ‘glut,’ that’s one issue I have. I’m concerned about the domino effect, which we all know is a very real issue.”
The Village Board said that they agree with Justice Houston, but are unsure of how to approach the issue and could use help coming up with solutions. Trustee Bob Wilcox said that every Village Board member he has served with has felt the same way.
“I share your sentiments 200 percent,” said Mayor Richard Hatheway. “Speaking personally, when we first moved into the Village, Chestnut Street was all resident-owned. Now it’s all for rent. […] It’s just the saddest thing I’ve seen happen to this village during my tenure.”
Justice Houston suggested that although solutions may not seem obvious, there are examples of college communities that have over time balanced their housing type to equal parts rental and resident-owned.
“I wish I was here with a bunch of solutions,” added Justice Houston. “A good first step may be to find some other communities which have bounced back and see what they did.”
The Village does have several laws and codes in place to discourage college renting in the Village, including the ‘rental housing law’ which limits houses to four residences, bans on overnight parking in the street, a no parking policy on grass, and the recently passed social host law which holds the owner of a residence legally responsible for any underage drinking of alcohol found to have occurred in the house.
The Village Board said that they will back Justice Houston in any efforts she chooses to take on the issue.
“If you are in need of clerical support or assistance, we are here to support you,” said Mayor Hatheway.
PHOTO CAPTION: (Photo/Conrad Baker)
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