EDITORIAL: Mount Pleasant's Planning Commission failed to see the impact of its rezoning ordinance
Mount Pleasant's new zoning ordinance does a lot of good — except in one area we believe negatively impacts students.
The ordinance may re-zone Lansing and Franklin streets and University Avenue, south of High Street from multiple-resident to single-family housing. This assumes the area will eventually turn into family residencies.
City officials cite an increase in people searching for affordable housing in Mount Pleasant. But with how residents feel about students already living there, how many people will want to live in an area predominantly occupied by students.
This ordinance shows Mount Pleasant wants the economic and social benefits students bring, but only when they are relegated to apartments away from town.
The effects may not be immediate and it won't force anyone out of their homes, over time it will hurt students.
As rental houses become nonconforming and landlords have difficulty repairing or renovating their properties, they’ll face the choice to either sell or try year after year to obtain special permits.
As landlords eventually sell their property to families, students seeking housing will have fewer neighborhood options, forcing us into apartment complexes or fighting for the remaining houses on Main Street. This leaves fewer students within walking distance of downtown.
The eventual exodus will be disastrous.
What happens to the stores, restaurants, coffee shops and bars when the student population north of campus declines?
Bar hopping from The Bird Bar & Grill to the Blackstone Bar on Thursdays will become less popular. There will be fewer students lined up inside Dog Central. There might not be as many students studying in The Coffee Room. Students walking downtown, wandering into stores or going to Stan’s Saturday morning — they’ll all disappear.
Why would we drive from Jamestown or Copper Beach to do any of those things when we’re living so far away?
Some students have jobs downtown and being able to walk to work is a lifesaver. Saving gas money and not having to rely on a 20-year-old jalopy allows us to afford school or pay for food and rent.
The commission missed many glaring problems and put additional hardships on future students and the local economy.
It’s not only about money.
North of campus is essentially the only place where students can live in Mount Pleasant that’s not a sea of white, characterless apartments.
Residents hate hearing students on weekday nights or having to deal with the occasional party. We don’t like living in apartments three feet from our neighbors, where the walls are paper thin and we have to deal with constant car alarms or couples shouting at 4 a.m.
Sometimes we like the quiet of a neighborhood as much as Mount Pleasant residents.
Sure, we can be loud, obnoxious and, at times, get out of hand. There’s no sugar coating it.
On Welcome Weekends and Homecoming, we’re going to be loud, but to us, there’s so much more to living in those houses.
We can see this, but we don’t understand why the city can’t and feels the need to re-zone this area.
It's a well-intentioned, but misguided answer to a problem we’re not even sure was an issue in the first place.
If the commission wants to Mount Pleasant to grow into a vibrant city, students will always be part of the equation.
Students, as individuals, come and go, but as an entity, we’ll always be here.
We hope the City Commission will reconsider this change and correct it.