Williamsburg City Council member Paul Freiling ’83 met with students at the Sadler Center on Wednesday to discuss issues facing students in the community.
The event presented students with the opportunity to question Freiling about the issues they consider most important, and was hosted by Students for a Better Williamsburg, the College Republicans, the Young Democrats and the Monroe Hall Council.
“This is the first time regular students are able to meet a city councilman,” SBW founder Josh Karp ’11 said.
SBW is a student-run political action committee that advocates student issues in Williamsburg.
“Paul was the only candidate to explicitly seek student support in the general election and is consistently the most pro-student member of the council,” SBW director Michael Douglass ’11 said.
Freiling, a native of Fredericksburg, was originally elected to the Williamsburg City Council in 2004.
This spring, he was reelected with more votes than any other candidate.
Freiling is known to focus on topics that impact students at the College of William and Mary, including attracting student-oriented businesses to the area and electoral reform.
Methods for creating a more eco-friendly city were the subject of significant interest at the forum. Freiling discussed engaging in the Green Government Challenge, a statewide movement to enact eco-friendly laws.
“We would like to work together with student organizations that have some of the same goals and harness their efforts and ideas,” Freiling said.
Some students at the event questioned Freiling on the city’s public transportation system.
“The complications within Williamsburg Area Transport have arisen as a result of trying to serve various constituencies under one system,” Freiling said.
He added that WAT is willing to negotiate changes in a contract with the College.
The three-person rule, which prevents more than three unrelated people from living in an off-campus house together, was also discussed.
“I think the rule has had some unfortunate consequences and that we need to find a solution that satisfies both the people that rent property and those who occupy the residences around them,” Freiling said. “The rule is not going to be eliminated, but steps like a special use permit process could begin to make a change.”
Freiling explained that the permits would involve landlords applying for the ability to rent out a unit to more than three people They would be awarded based on criteria such as the number of bedrooms and baths, parking availability, and the passing of inspection guidelines.
He concluded that the city council’s first priority is to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the community.
He hopes to promote interaction between the College, the council and the city in an attempt to increase accessibility.
“I am hoping that there can be a continuation of the ongoing dialogue between the College and the rest of the city,” Freiling said.
“I think that Paul is trying to promote change by connecting the student body with the City Council.”