Despite search, housing suit proceeds

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February 3, 2009

12:09 AM

Despite passing a city inspection on Friday, the students who reside at 711 Richmond Rd. still face charges from the city for violating the controversial three-person rule, which bars more than three unrelated people from living together in a Williamsburg house.

The city conducted an official inspection of the property Friday morning, said Nick Skantz ’09, a resident of the house.

“They did an inspection, and there wasn’t really anything here,” Skantz said. “I expect [the lawsuit] to be dropped.”

City Attorney Joe Philips said the inspection indicated that those who reside at the house are currently complying with the three-person rule, but that the lawsuit is not likely to be dismissed.

“It’s improbable that the charges will be dropped,” he said. “There was a violation.”

Skantz has previously confirmed that he, Greg Genovese ’09 and Paul Moore ‘09, share the lease for the residence. Andrew Fleming ’09 also confirmed that he lived in the house during the fall 2008 semester.
Philips said the city is open to an out-of-court settlement.

“There is a possibility that there would be a consent order,” Philips said. He added that the consent order would settle the case and ensure that there would not be a repeat violation on the property.

“We have not agreed to drop this suit,” he said. “There are not only students involved.”

The house’s landlords, Pamela Cutler and Robert McDevitt, are also facing charges.

Student Assembly President Valerie Hopkins ’09 said the lawsuit may have damaged efforts by city and student leaders to reach a compromise on the three-person rule.

“I’m very disappointed that the city chose this time to enforce the three-person rule to this height,” she said. “It’s caused me to rethink my trust in certain city officials.”

Student leaders spent much of last semester on a panel with city officials discussing alternatives to the ordinance. No compromise has been reached.

“[This is a] perfect case for why the rule is ridiculous,” Hopkins said. “I see this driving a wedge between the city and students.”

City Zoning Administrator Rodney Rhodes declined to comment for this story.

Williamsburg Mayor Jeanne Zeidler could not be reached for comment.

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