Student housing affecting more than just students

Community members discuss action plan at stakeholder meetingAfter many years of picking up broken beer bottles, reviving trampled roses and replacing her mailbox, Audrey Wayker was fed up.

“I live in a neighborhood where students are misbehaving, vandalizing and noisy,” she said. “I’m not saying that all students are this way, but all the students in my neighborhood are.”

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Wayker, a long time resident of Fort Collins, expressed her feelings toward the Student Housing Action Plan at the City Council open house Wednesday night.

City Council has been in progress of coming up with the best ways to accommodate for the projected increase in student population. This year the number of students at CSU is about 27,000 students and by 2020 or later, could increase to a maximum of 35,000 according to Beth Sowder, neighborhood services manager of Fort Collins.

The open house gave the community a chance to raise their concerns regarding all aspects of the plans.

With several different views on the topic, such as Wayker’s, the city has been proposing various ways to approach the issues. In an effort to eliminate the worries that Wayker expressed, they suggested an on-site management system.

An on-site management system would require that every community appoint a person to contact regarding any issues, who would in-turn act as a community liaison. The community would also have a variety of numbers to call, should they need to report something going wrong in their neighborhood.

“People fear that what could happen is an increase in traffic, people, noise, trash etc. With that said, if we have an on-site management available, it will keep those fears from becoming a reality,” Sowder said.

After hearing various opinions, Clint Skutchan, executive vice president of the Fort Collins Board of Realtors, offered more information to consider.

“The demographic that we are looking at here is 18-35, not just students,” he explained. “Assuming that we are just talking about students causes for a demographic bias and keeps us from looking at every aspect.”

Skutchan explained that a lot of his company’s focus is listening to every aspect of the discussion, which includes how this is going to affect the residents who have been in Fort Collins for years, like Wayker.

“This is more than students looking to rent; this is also first time home buyers,” Skutchan said.

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The city council will meet again Sept. 6 to present to the Affordable Housing Board for more feedback.