Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Combat Zone: Peace or Profit?
It’s a matter of numbers. Three versus four.
For decades citizens in Plattsburgh’s Center City have seen the character of their neighborhood deteriorate. Theft, vandalism, noise. Landlords have converted one family homes into apartments for student housing. This means that some unruly transients end up ruining the quality of life for the permanent residents.
Some of the Center City residents have taken action. They don’t want their area to remain a combat zone.
These residents pay their taxes, obey the law. They work within the system, trying to create needed changes.
Citizen activist Nancy Monette and others have pushed for a proposed change in the law that would limit three unrelated people in an apartment unit as a functional family. This proposal, say its advocates, makes student housing less profitable, removing the incentive to convert properties into such housing. In turn, fewer students would be concentrated in one neighborhood.
Less profit = less students = less problems.
Monette states other communities find the ordinance to be very effective. Some have even reduced the number of unrelated renters down to two.
If it works elsewhere in other college towns, it should work in Plattsburgh.
But the three per unit proposal has hit a snag. Mayor Donald Kasprzak wants to review it.
Why? Because a developer from Albany plans to build student housing on Broad Street, the southern border of The Combat Zone. The developer says he needs four students per unit or the project won’t be profitable. The mayor favors the project because it will generate tax revenue.
This is the same mayor who stated that Center City residents have tolerated unruly college students for too long.
But if he kills the three per unit proposal, conflict will continue, no decrease. Citizens who worked so hard to bring changes in the law will once again feel betrayed.
There won’t be peace in The Combat Zone.