Jacksonville hears rezoning argument, discusses off campus chapter houses

Photo of the 'Welcome to Jacksonville' sign. (Courtesy of JSU)Photo of the 'Welcome to Jacksonville' sign. (Courtesy of JSU)

Zachary Grizzard, News Correspondent

The Jacksonville City Council met Monday, October 28, to hear a property rezoning request from the owners of The Roost Apartment complex.

If approved, the rezoning would allow for a new apartment complex designed to house multi-family apartments, single dwelling apartments and commercial additions, including a walking trail and taco stand or juice bar.

After the rezoning request was heard, the council addressed the planning committee, which is in the process of correcting old verbiage in the Jacksonville City Ordinance Code regarding fraternity and sorority off-campus housing.

The Planning Committee said that currently off-campus fraternity or sorority houses were not allowed, but previously, in an earlier code, the housing was allowed. 

The possibility of the Council reallowing off-campus fraternity or sorority houses has been discussed, but has yet to be voted on.

The final draft of the proposed ordinance states that “Fraternity or Sorority House, means a dwelling occupied by and maintained exclusively for college students who are affiliated with a social, honorary, or professional organization recognized by Jacksonville State University and in which meetings, socials, or other similar gatherings are held.” 

There are ‘conditional’ limits placed on the proposed houses, which means each home would require city approval.

Some of the requirements mentioned are that each bedroom could only sleep one person, but that each bedroom must also provide two parking spaces, with a minimum of six per home. Chapter houses that have the city maximum of  six bedrooms must provide 12 parking spaces for their home.

Another restriction includes a mandatory four-foot privacy fence in the front of the home with an eight to ten foot mandatory privacy fence on the sides of the property. In addition to the privacy fence, homes must also install “buffer” items to the property lines that include fast-growing cedar trees or evergreens. The items must be planted at a height of four feet with conditions that they will grow to the required height of six feet within one year. 

These types of requirements are not mandatory on campus, but off-campus chapters are required to provide privacy and buffers to neighbors.

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