Student Housing: Zoning board made right decision
October 03, 2013 12:07 AM | 2963 views | 0 0 comments | 54 54 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Laws are intended to be applied equally to all. Enforcing a given law strenuously against one person or group while turning a blind eye to violations of it by another person or group is a sure way of undermining not just that law but all laws.

That theory sometimes results in the law being strictly enforced against someone whose violation of the law or ordinance in question seems minor and harmless.

That brings us to the case of five Kennesaw State University students who’ll have to find new housing after the Cobb Planning Commission on Tuesday rejected a request by their landlord for a special land-use permit that would have allowed the five to continue to share a three-bedroom house on Westover Trace in Acworth, which was the subject of a front-page story in Wednesday’s Marietta Daily Journal.

County law allows no more than two unrelated adults to live under the same roof, regardless of the size of the house. That law was passed in large part in response to the wave of complaints prompted by the way unscrupulous landlords — or to be more accurate, slumlords — crowded 5, 10 and 15 or more illegal immigrants, typically Hispanic, into two- and three-bedroom houses, especially in south Cobb. It only takes one or two such houses to poison property values and perceptions of a street or subdivision, especially if local governments are lax when it comes to code enforcement.

That law also is prompted by the experience here and elsewhere around the country of what can happen once nearby property owners start renting their homes as de facto student apartments.

As longtime Westover resident Cindy Peterson told the zoning board on Tuesday,

“Being so close to KSU, if we allow multiple residents in our homes, we will become fraternity rows.”

Other residents of Westover told the board they’d seen problems with garbage and parking in connection with other houses rented to students, and spoke against granting the permit request.

The board voted unanimously against the request. Member Christi Trombetti spoke positively about the homeowner in question and the tenants, but added, “We can’t judge our applications necessarily on the people we meet.”

Too many people fought too long to get such a law in place to protect neighborhoods and property values for the county now to start watering it down. We wish the best to the tenants and property owner, but the board ruled correctly in this case.

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