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Battle of proposed restricted occupancy ordinance continues in College Station

Special city council meeting will be held Monday night to address issue
Posted at 7:08 AM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 08:08:26-04

BRAZOS COUNTY, TX — A proposed restricted occupancy ordinance is creating a division between Texas A&M students and College Station residents- with two big meetings being held by the city to address the topic.

Better known as ROO, this ordinance would limit no more than two unrelated people to live in a single-family home in certain neighborhoods of the city.

Texas A&M, junior Alexia Hernandez has lived off campus since her freshman year - something she would not have been able to afford without roommates her first two years.

"Any restriction that takes away housing from a certain group of people, especially college students, especially non-traditional families, and especially people who usually can't afford to live by themselves is a huge issue for me," Hernandez said.

College Station city council is considering approving a restricted occupancy ordinance that would limit the number of unrelated people living under one household.

If the ROO is adopted neighborhoods within the city would still have to apply in order to implement the restriction and properties that already have multiple families will be grandfathered in.

Jessica Williams is a freshman at Texas A&M, who is considering living off-campus next year.

She feels the ordinance is a direct attack on students.

"The kind of insinuation that students aren't part of the community or don't care about the needs of the community because we do. Just because we are here temporarily, for some of us doesn't mean that are not invested and absolutely fight for change and the absolute best for the community," Williams said.

The president of the College Station Association Neighborhood or CSAN lives in a mixed, multi-generational neighborhood with both college students as neighbors and older residents.

His fear is multiple family occupancies within single-family homes will increase property value, become overrun with students and eventually push families out of that neighborhood.

"We believe that by having the ROO you can maintain that balance, where you can have both families and students and other renters," Richard Woodward, president of the College Station Association Neighborhood said.

Woodward argues adopting the ROO is not anti-student and would have minimal impact on them because it is meant to protect neighborhoods that do not already have a high population of students.

"It's the most bottom-up policy you can imagine. It just says, 'ok. Neighborhoods, you can get together and take some ownership over the quality of your life. That's not aggressive. That's empowering," Woodward said.

"Even the notion that we want to make certain neighborhoods unwelcome to college students when the city is built by college students and built by the economic value of college students is ridiculous," Hernandez said.

The Coalition Against the ROO has created a petition and has about 2100 signatures.

The planning and zoning commission will further discuss the ROO during its meeting Thursday at 6 P.M.

College Station city council is also holding a special meeting on the topic Monday night. Both will be held via zoom.

Bryan has had a restricted occupancy ordinance in place since 2006.