Homeowners near St. Thomas seek student rental limit - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Homeowners near St. Thomas seek student rental limit

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

People living near the University of St. Thomas say they are worried students are taking over their neighborhoods, and they are asking St. Paul city leaders to step in because they don't want another Dinkytown.

The St. Paul City Council will hold a public hearing on an ordinance to limit student housing next Wednesday, but the debate is already dividing residents.

The back door of the university is just steps away from Cheryl Fogarty's front lawn, and she's one of dozens of neighbors trying to stop more homes from being converted into rental properties for students.

"We just don't want it to take over," she explained. "The second block has a lot more student rentals. We fear turning this area into another Dinkytown, where homeowners feel under siege."

Joel Clemmer, of the Mac-Groveland Community Council, says it's time to stop the parties and set boundaries before things escalate.

"There's a relationship between the degree of the problem and the density of the problem," he said.

That's why the proposed ordinance -- which only affects the area directly surrounding St. Thomas -- would require a 150-foot barrier between any new student rentals, which is basically the equivalent of two city lots.

Supporters say having more than two rental homes on a block quickly turns off single family owners; however, the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors is questioning the ordinance, saying it infringes on property rights -- and a university spokesman told FOX 9 News that singling out one campus simply isn't fair.

"We appreciate their concerns," said Doug Henness, with the University of St. Thomas. "If it's good public policy for St. Thomas, then why not have similar kinds of districts throughout the city?"

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