In a classic example of the “squeaky wheel getting the grease,” a small group of homeowners in a neighborhood adjacent to CSU were able to drive a City Council policy discussion. A group called the Coalition of Neighbors asked the City to implement a moratorium on the approval of new multi-family/student housing. The request prompted a study by the Community Development and Neighborhood Services Department to evaluate the impact of multi-family housing in single-family home neighborhoods.
According to the department’s director, Laurie Kadrich, the study found that single-family homes had a much higher percentage of complaints or arrests than apartment complexes. However, several Council members (Kelly Ohlson and Lisa Poppaw) dismissed the staff study, saying that the neighbors’ complaints were more important than staff’s data.
Why is this discussion important? Colorado State University is a major economic driver for Fort Collins. The University’s enrollment is increasing and there is already more demand for student housing than can be met by the University or the private sector. From a planning perspective it makes sense to locate denser apartment or condominium projects close to campus. If a multi-family housing moratorium were implemented, it would simply create sprawl as these denser projects were pushed into other areas of the city.
For these reasons, the Fort Collins Board of REALTORS® spoke against the moratorium. Although the Council opted not to consider a moratorium at this time, the debate will continue as appeals related to current multi-family aka student housing projects are considered and the City works on the ongoing Student Housing Action Plan. The question is,will the City Council consider what is best for Fort Collins and use planning tools to regulate development or acquiesce to the requests of neighbors whofeel denser residential projects will threaten their quality of life?