Three-Person Focus Group reconvenes after hiatus

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March 24, 2009

5:35 AM

The Focus Group on Rental Properties, a group consisting of city residents and College of William and Mary students, met on Thursday for the first time after splitting up.

Student Assembly member David Witkowsky ’11, who is a member of the 13-person focus group, said the smaller groups are studying what other localities facing similar situations have done.

“Once that researching is complete, the smaller groups are going to present to the group as a whole a potential proposal for how to tackle the housing issues in Williamsburg,” Witkowsky said. “I hope that within the next few weeks the group is going to start heading quickly towards its recommendation to City Council.”

According to the focus group’s minutes from the March 5th meeting, the subgroups’ findings are to be presented on Apr. 2 and discussed on Apr. 9, Apr. 16, and Apr. 23. Recommendations to the City Council are to be made after that.

The smaller groups were advised to focus on local policy instead of state laws and advised that recommendations should be presented in the form of changes in zoning ordinances, legislative action within the City Council or further negotiations with the College.

Williamsburg Mayor Jeanne Zeidler appointed the focus group to discuss the three-person rule along with other housing issues. The rule prevents more than three unrelated people from living in a single housing unit. The panel has been meeting since Feb. 16.

According to the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, the effectiveness of the three-person laws in other college towns was discussed in the meeting last Thursday. The University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg also has the three-person rule, as does Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, VA. While Fredericksburg, VA like Williamsburg, has had enforcement issues, the problem has not been as severe in Ashland.

The three-person rule has been a source of controversy between students and city residents, and several students were sued by the city earlier this year for violating this ordinance.

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