Student housing concerns in Lexington

By: Denny Trease
By: Denny Trease

Lexington leaders are tackling the problem of where and how college students are living.

A task force Tuesday unveiled a list of recommendations for how to deal with UK students living off campus, The report touched on everything from safety and littering to upkeep of the homes, and its long awaited release drew a big crowd.

Council Chambers were packed more than an hour before the scheduled start of the planning committee session so the overflow crowd was seated in a ballroom one floor below to view a closed circuit feed.

Task Force Chairman Mike Meuser reported his team found numerous laws and codes not being enforced due to a lack of funding and recommended that those issues be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Student voices were also heard. Hayes Cannon drew laughter when he said, "You don't want us in your neighborhoods, but we don't want to live in your neighborhoods either. We really don't. We like living next to each other."

Molly Davis has lived in the midst of students on Elizabeth Street for more than a decade. She's especially concerned about what's being done to some neighborhood homes to make them suitable for multiple student renters. "If you have a 1,000 square foot home, you can add up to 1,500 square feet. What normal single family adds on that much space or adds six bedrooms. They don't do that."

To get to council chambers Tuesday, UK students staged a protest march from campus to downtown particularly to address the task force recommendation to eventually limit student housing density in any neighborhood to 50 per cent or less.

Student Body President Ryan Smith told 27 NEWSFIRST, "What it does is prevent one student house from being next to another student house, and in neighborhoods near Elizabeth Street or State Street where 90 per cent of the houses are student houses, this is going to have a profound effect and push so many students farther away."

All the students protesters were very well behaved, but Molly Davis says, "Add 3 six-packs to anybody and they change. My neighborhood is being destroyed."


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