Homeowners Complain About Zoning Violations
MU Student Bering Bush and his two roommates live in a big house with six bedrooms on the corner of South Providence Road and Bernam Avenue. The front door is worn down and the fence is broken.
Homeowners in the Grasslands neigborhood don't like them there. They charge zoning violations. Three of the six students who shared the house was forced out by the city and paid 150 dollars in fines.
"That is really unfair," Busch said. "It just made our neighbors think bad of us while we did not know anything about the zoning code until very recent. And it was too late."
With three students ousted, the three remaining renters had to cover all the rent of $1,900.
Columbia zoning regulations for the Grasslands neighborhood order that not more than three persons unrelated by blood or marriage may live together in one single residential unit. Brenda Canaday is the building inspector and she has been busy with investigation of possible violations.
"Zoning violation is a common issue, especially in rental properties," Canaday said. "Houses on South Providence Road are particularly attractive to university students. Those houses are in the R-1 district so no more than three unrelated people may live in one house, even if there are six bedrooms."
The Office of Neighborhood Services has complaint from homeowners in the Grasslands, East Campus and Rothwell Heights. The homeowners urged the city to act against zoning violations
"Though there have been only a handful of the situations, we hope the city can enforce the code effectively so that we can protect the well-being of our neighborhood," said John Ott, president of the Grasslands Neighborhood Association. "I believe it is an issue that not only effects our neighborhood, it also bothers people in other areas."
Ott says he frequently clears the trash on the patch of ground he owns right beside the rental house.
"Zoning violation caused a number of problems," said Leigh Britt, manager of Neighborhood Services. "If there are more than three or four unrelated people many people living in one residential unit, there will be a lot of traffic, a lot of trash and noise. It may also result in some safety issues."
According to the office, many people are still vague about the city's zoning code.
"The good side of the story is that it is a process to educate people, rather than only prosecuting. We are happy to see that they learn about the rules and they voluntarily comply with it afterwards," Britt said.
For more information about the city's zoning code, you may visit our Links and Numbers section.