City urges fraternities to not relocate off campus

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April 28, 2009

3:49 AM

Fraternities can be sued if they move their houses off campus, Williamsburg Zoning Administrator Rodney Rhodes said last week in a letter sent to all on-campus fraternities.

Williamsburg’s zoning ordinances list exactly how single-family homes in the city can be used, and fraternity house isn’t on the list. Rhodes said he wanted to inform fraternities of the ordinance after hearing that many of them are moving off campus next year.

Rhodes sent another letter specifically addressing rumors that Phi Kappa Tau plans to move off campus to 711 Richmond Rd., where student residents are currently being sued for violating the three-person rule. The letter was sent to the owners of the property, who live in New Mexico. It was also copied to Phi Tau members and College of William and Mary President Taylor Reveley.

Rhodes said Williamsburg residents and several students told him Phi Tau intends to lease the Richmond Road property. Phi Tau president Michael Taylor ’11 denies that his fraternity considered relocating there.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is our government, and they’re using rumors to threaten legal action against citizens,” Taylor said. “We’re just students. We’re being discriminated against purely because we’re members of a fraternity.”

Phi Tau is leaving campus next year because the organization could not fill its unit, a College requirement for on-campus fraternities. The majority of Phi Tau’s members will move off campus into separate Williamsburg homes, Taylor said.

That’s fine, Rhodes said yesterday — as long as the fraternity doesn’t have a central location.

“I’m not saying people can’t have a party, but if that were the sole place that they were meeting, then that would be considered the fraternity house,” Rhodes said. “The letter wasn’t citing them for doing anything illegal. It was just a warning notice that maybe they need to look into other options.”

Taylor said Phi Tau already applied for space on campus to hold fraternity meetings. He said he plans to contact city officials to determine exactly what constitutes a fraternity house and what doesn’t.

Sigma Pi President Brian Apkarian ’11 said he received his fraternity’s letter from the city yesterday. Sigma Pi is also leaving campus next year because the organization could not fill its unit.

Apkarian said the fraternity plans to move into several off-campus houses, but that the fraternity will no longer have a central location.

“We have a couple houses,” Apkarian said. “Am I living with guys from my fraternity? Yeah.”

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