Fraternity house to open on East Main

Andrew Hampp

A fifth fraternity house will be added to the area known as “fraternity row” this fall. Last night the City of Kent Planning Commission approved the zoning certificate requesting the expansion of the residency on 227 E. Main St. from a nine-person household to a 16-person residency for the Kent Alpha Tau Omega chapter.

But unlike the other fraternity houses in the area, Alpha Tau Omega’s will be substance free and hold all of its meetings and other organization events off-campus.

Kent chapter vice president Jeremy Miller spoke last night in favor of the expansion request.

“We’d be more than happy to live in the house,” Miller said. “(Being substance free) is in the bylaws. It’s not even going to be an issue.”

Kent attorney John Flynn, speaking on behalf of the Historic Improvement Group, said having a substance-free fraternity house would be an attractive alternative to some Kent State students.

“I think there are a lot of students who do not want to drink and party,” he said. “Fraternities are a fact of life, but they don’t all have to be Animal House-like fraternities.”

Norman Smyke, a member of the Historic Improvement Group, said the house has previously been home to Greek organizations for a total of 36 years. It has also gone under recent renovations that have kept its original woodwork intact.

“I’m very proud of this property,” he said. “I want to keep to be able to maintain the house in such a good condition.”

He added that the expansion from nine residents to 16 would not be a problem, and the house could accommodate even more than the requested number.

Planning commissioner Matthew VanNote also approved the request to have 12 parking spaces available for the 16 residents, noting that the house would share a parking lot with neighboring fraternity Delta Tau Delta.

“Parking will take care of itself,” he said. “It always does. I think the biggest rivalry would be with the Delts. It might be like the Hatfields and McCoys out there for parking, but that’s part of the fun of college.”

The planning commission also approved a request from Kent Parks and Recreation to expand Al Lease Park east of Garth Drive and west of the proposed extension of Admore Drive.

Kent Parks and Recreation director John Idone presented the proposal last night and addressed concerns from two residents who were upset about recent floods in their back yards as a result of previous park flood plans.

It also approved the conversion of the property at 609 S. Water St. to a rooming house to be occupied by not more than four unrelated persons. The current residency of four female Kent students was brought into question by several South Water residents.

It was ultimately approved by the commission after an extended debate of the pros and cons of having college-aged residents in a neighborhood primarily occupied by families.

Contact public affairs reporter Andrew Hampp at [email protected].