Greenville City Council considers possible limitations on student housing

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Greenville City Council is considering big changes to student housing, after heated debate over several rezoning requests.

As the city continues growing, so does the university and the need for places to house students. Soon, however, that housing may be limited only to certain places.

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve had significant expansion of our student housing complexes in town and we wanted to make sure that moving forward, we’re doing it right,” said Greenville City Councilman McLean Godley.

Complexes are shooting up in the uptown area, but proposals for high-density housing away from campus are getting shot down.

“In 4 or 5 years, it’s at 30 percent capacity, we’re dealing with the crime and sanitation and large issues. It becomes a real burden on the taxpayers of Greenville,” said Mayor Allen Thomas.

That’s what happened with North Campus Crossing, which announced it was going into foreclosure last year because not enough students lived there. Another issue is residents in neighborhoods like Cypress Creek fighting similar developments near them.

“A student complex with 4 and 5 bedrooms is not the same as a family neighborhood,” Thomas said.

That’s why City Council is directing city staff to identify areas near ECU’s campus, better suited for student housing. Yet, that could limit developers to only those areas.

“When you have an urban area, where you put things impacts your economic viability of your city, it impacts the quality of life of your citizens. It’s very important where you put things,” said Greenville City Councilman At-Large Calvin Mercer.

Councilmembers want to set clear guidelines on where student housing can go to avoid rezoning battles like they’re facing now.

“We want to make sure that as more student housing opportunities become readily available for our students, that they’re done right, that they’re closer to campus and we want to make sure that they’re bikeable, walkable for our students to enjoy,” Godley said.

City staff will present research to council in May. If they determine a zoning ordinance amendment is needed, it’s likely council won’t take action on it until August.

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