Boarding houses causing trouble for families living on Vine Street

Alex Hayes

Students living in boarding houses at 571 and 573 Vine St. have been bothering residents of their Kent neighborhood. Twenty-three of the neighbors signed and submitted a petition to Councilman Ed Bargerstock requesting that action be taken in regards to the properties.

According to the petition, students have been “urinating, vomiting and throwing refuse in residents’ yards and encroaching on private property.” The petition also states that residents have “had property vandalized, stolen or destroyed and car windows smashed” during the parties at the homes.

A party on Aug. 27 at 573 Vine St. resulted in the arrest of a Kent State student for unlawful noise and arrest of a 19-year-old for underage possession of alcohol.

Police also responded on Sept. 1 to 573 Vine St. because of complaints from a neighbor about a loud party.

Many boarding houses in Kent neighbor the houses of families in areas zoned R-3. Boarding houses were grandfathered into their status in the 1970s.

“Why are students the only ones who can live within walking distance of the university?” asked Amanda Ennis, who lives on neighboring High Street.

Ennis, who signed the petition, said trash and broken glass from the properties are a constant problem. She also said other residents have moved from the area because of problems with the homes in the past.

“I certainly have thoughts of selling and leaving this house as well,” Ennis said.

Walt and Nancy Adams, of High Street, also signed the petition because of problems with the homes.

“I think the health commissioner and zoning inspector should be empowered to revoke the license and zoning certificate,” Walt Adams said.

The Adams’ said they are “not interested in creating monasteries” but would like the students to be respectful of their neighbors.

Bargerstock, who represents Ward 5, said he feels the problem is bigger than the two houses on Vine Street. He submitted an Action Plan Agenda that evolved from concerns over similar issues with homes in the North Willow and Crain Avenue area last year.

The agenda calls for the creation of criminal nuisance statutes. The statutes would deal with:

ƒ-S Litter and trash, allowing police or health officials to issue citations to the property owner or residents.

ƒ-S Traffic, “prohibiting vehicles from traveling from one lot across property lines to access another lot or means of ingress/egress and prohibiting parking across property lines unless such parking or travel is otherwise lawfully permitted.”

ƒ-S Registration of the owner-authorized occupants of boarding houses similar to a hotel or motel with the registration posted at the property and kept on file with the city. Unregistered occupants and overnight visitors would be subject to citation by the police or zoning officials, as well as the occupants of an illegal boarding house.

ƒ-S Maximum occupancy limits for legal boarding houses with police or fire officers authorized to require persons to leave until compliance is met.

“We’re looking to solve the problem in a cost-effective way that isn’t a strain on the city’s budget,” Bargerstock said.

Dean of Students and Student Ombudsman Greg Jarvie said the university has little jurisdiction in off-campus matters like these, but said he has interceded in these kinds of situations in the past.

Jarvie said he doesn’t condone lawless behavior by students. He said students could use Student Legal Services if they feel that city council or police are treating them unfairly, as long as they paid the fee in order to take part in the plan.

Contact public affairs reporter Alex Hayes at [email protected].