City cracks down on three-person violations
December 4, 2009
From Nov. 13 to Nov. 23, the City of Williamsburg issued notices of compliance to the tenants, landlords and property managers of nine homes in what was the largest wave of enforcement for the three-person rule in recent memory.
Notices were delivered to 46 students of the College of William and Mary, 23 of whom reside on Matoaka Court. One of the nine houses, 119 Griffin Ave. has already been found in compliance.
“Things are being resolved on a case-by-case basis,” Williamsburg Zoning Administrator Rodney Rhodes said. “Five of the nine are being cleared up, or brought into compliance, or are proving that they are in compliance.”
Of the nine houses, three were given notice because of evidence provided by neighbors or other residents.
For 206 Nelson Ave., 201 Matoaka Ct. and 207 Matoaka Ct., complainants provided Rhodes with detailed logs of parking activity around the houses. These logs, maintained for at least one month each, indicated the residents’ and visitors’ cars by make, model and license plate number. Cars that were parked outside residences regularly were cross-checked with city parking permits, which could be used to establish domicile for the cars’ owners.
“I have loved being a member of the Williamsburg community for the past three and a half years, but it is unnerving to find out that we have been watched and disheartening to lose the sense of security I once felt here in Williamsburg,” Shannon More ’10, a resident of 206 Nelson Ave., said in a statement.
Other homes were targeted for investigation after receiving multiple violations of the city’s recently instituted noise ordinance. Of the 10 addresses that have received noise violations since August, two — 219 Harrison Ave. and 207 Matoaka Ct. — have also received notices for the three-person violation.
Chase Hill ’10, a resident of 201 Matoaka Ct., said that the notices came as a surprise to him and his housemates.
“We’ve never had any noise ordinances [or] any citations,” he said. “When I talked to Rhodes today, he told us our neighbor [basically] ratted us out.”
The log for 201 Matoaka Ct. is one of the most detailed. E-mails from the complainant, whose identity was redacted, to Rhodes discuss the number of cars regularly parked outside the house, as well as the frequency of overnight visitors. The complainant further requested weekly written reports from the Williamsburg Police Department regarding incidents that occur on Matoaka Court from Major Susan Geary.
The complainant also forwarded the names of students who had indicated to neighbors that they would be having a party at 207 Matoaka Ct. for the express purpose of adding their names to a list of residents of the home. The investigation of 207 Matoaka Ct. was ongoing at the time.
Several students have already proven they are not residents of the disputed houses. For Camilla Hill ’11, a resident of 219B Harrison Ave., this is the sixth time the city has confused her address for 219 Harrison Ave., the house next door.
“The City of Williamsburg has been harassing these people [of 219 Harrison Ave.] non-stop,” Camilla Hill said. “I feel that they’re being incredibly sneaky and conniving about this.”
Other students who received notices that Rhodes believes are not in violation are Heather Bryant ’10, Tamara Sweetnam ’11, Megan Burke ’12 and Hailey Hewitt ’12.
In Monday’s meeting between city staff and Student Assembly leaders, Mayor Jeanne Zeidler emphasized that three-person complaints are investigated whether the violators are students or non-students, and that the ordinance is in no way directed at the College’s off-campus student population.
“We must enforce our ordinances,” she said. “And that’s what’s happening.”
As the Jan. 5, 2010 deadline for compliance approaches, students who are currently living in violation of the ordinance are working toward finding alternative housing options.
“The three people who are on the lease are the three people that are going to be living there,” Chase Hill said.
Chase Hill’s roommates who are not on the lease have found another off-campus location.
“Honestly, we came into the situation knowing we [would be violating the zoning ordinance],” Carl Watts ’10, a resident of 201 Matoaka Ct., said. “But the situation we’re in is different than the situation we came in with.”
_Click here to read a From the Newsroom blog post about why The Flat Hat has reported the names of alleged three-person rule violators but not the complainants who submitted evidence to the city._