Town considers “College Town District” plan
Hamden officials have proposed a different way to keep students out of residential areas.
The town is looking to create a “College Town District,” where students would shop and live off campus, away from single-family homes.
The area could be located in the Woodruff Street, Renshaw Road, Whitney Avenue and New Road section of town.
“It would be attractive for students to want to live in and attractive to other residents to go to shop or eat at,” Assistant Town Planner Daniel Kops said. “Because it wouldn’t simply be housing. It would be restaurants, shops, etc and it would be an area that would encourage development and hopefully pull students away from the single-family home areas.”
Although Kops stressed that this is a preliminary idea, he said this could alleviate issues between students and Hamden families. Students have different lifestyles from the majority of Hamden residents, Kops said, which can cause tensions. He said he still wants the university to build more dorms and still wants more students back on campus, but that this could be a solution for the students who want to live off campus.
“The problem really arises from the fact that there is no viable area for students to live together,” he said. “I’m sure you’ve seen in other municipalities if you visit friends [at different colleges,] there’s typically an area where lots of students live if you live off campus. It’s multi-family housing, it’s dense and it’s somewhat buffered from residential areas.”
Kops hopes students would want to live in this district, rather than in the neighborhoods, because they would be closer to their friends.
“Their friends are always in walking distance rather than having to get in their car,” Kops said. “It also might be safer on a Saturday night when sometimes they go out to parties that are elsewhere and they’re driving when they shouldn’t be.”
But freshman Tyler Rubeor said he does not like the idea of the “College Town District.”
“I don’t really think it’s fair to restrict where students live as long as they’re paying rent and remembers the society they should be able to live where they want,” he said.
Kops said students would still be allowed to live in off-campus houses outside of the district, as long as these homes were already permitted for student use. With the implementation of the “College Town District,” the commission would no longer give student-housing permits for homes outside the district.
“It’s not forcing anyone out of where they’re living now,” he said. “It’s not forcing property owners to sell their property because it can’t be used for a rental. But it says, if the language is approved, it would stop the issuing of new permits in the single family residential zones.”
Kops also believes the district could attract stores and restaurants, which would benefit both Hamden residents and students.
He said Quinnipiac has expressed interest in a district like this in the past. President Lahey said in an interview with The Chronicle in November 2013 that he wanted to make Northern Hamden a college town.
Freshman Nicole Monce said she liked the idea of a “College Town District.”
“The juniors or seniors who are living off campus could all be in the same area, kind of like giving them an on-campus experience living together, but it’s off campus,” she said.
Senior Wil Penn thought a “College Town District” would help eliminate conflicts between students and residents, but he said he would not want to live in this district. He said this is because he would be worried the university and the police would target this area to discipline partying students.
“I think that’s what pushes a lot of students to live off campus,” he said. “You know the fact that they don’t have a [resident assistant] 10 feet down the hallway and that the cops don’t know exactly where they live and it kind of provides that private feel of living in a home.”
To create a “College Town District,” the Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission would have to vote to change its zoning map. The town planners need to look at what other towns do and draft an amendment to present to the commission. This may take months, Kops said.
“The devil’s in the details,” he said. “It’s going to take us a while to come up with something that makes sense to move forward.”