Residents troubled by Arbor District safety

By Tyler Davis, @TDavis_DE

After a string of violence and large parties in the Arbor District of Carbondale, a group of residents are planning to meet with Carbondale City Council to discuss ways to make the area safer for families and non-students.

Members of the Arbor District Neighborhood Association, a group that wants to maintain the community atmosphere of the residential area north of the university and west of Route 51, attended the Nov. 16 city council meeting to voice their concerns about two shootings that have taken place in the area and parties that often crowd into the streets.

Peg Falcone, the association’s secretary, said the group has tentatively scheduled a meeting with the council and the Carbondale Police Department at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Civic Center. City Manager Kevin Baity said he has not received a firm date from the association but is open to the meeting.

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The area has been a popular spot for students to live since the 1970s but families are starting to migrate into the area, Baity said.

“With the growth of the large student housing—we have Aspen Court, the Reserve, the Pointe on Park Street and then [Evolve]—we have an area adjacent to the university where students are not living as much, and those houses are being converted back to single-family housing,” he said.

Baity said it is important to hear concerns of all residents because having college students and families living in close proximity can be difficult.

“One of the issues we’ve heard were large house parties,” Baity said. “[Or] a large group of people roaming the streets with no direction. Then there were the two incidents where guns were involved, both ended up involving people from outside the community coming into that area.”

Now that more families are moving into the neighborhood, the group wants the meeting to find ways to make the area safer, according a letter from the association to the City Council obtained by the Daily Egyptian. The letter explains residents’ dissatisfaction with the lack of police presence and the lack of arrests made for crimes in the area.

Falcone said the association does not want to move students out of the district but is looking for ways to make it more family-friendly. She said additional police patrols could help address the crime.

“We’re just after a peaceful neighborhood where people don’t get shot,” she said.

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Baity said he knows the association is looking to the CPD and City Council to improve safety. He said possible measures to improve safety and residents’ contentment include restrictions on large house parties or of large groups of people in the streets.

Baity said he does not foresee banning students from the district, but another possible change could be adjusting housing codes to make more houses unavailable to renters who are not family members.

“The tool the city uses to control [where students live] is through zoning,” he said.

Houses are categorized as R1, R2 or R3 living structures, Baity said. In an R1, all but one dweller have to be related. R2’s can have two unrelated tenants while an R3, which is most common for students, has no minimum or maximum number of related tenants.

He said an example of an R1 would be many of the residential houses west of Oakland Avenue inbetween West Mill Street and West Walnut Street.

Most large houses that were converted from three- or four-bedroom single-family homes to four- or five-bedroom apartments are R2’s, such as the complex on the southwest corner of Poplar and Walnut.

He said large apartment buildings, such as the ones along West Mill Street, across the street from campus, are R3 housing complexes.

Baity said rezoning parts of the city is not probable.

“At this time, any changes in zoning would be a significant undertaking and wouldn’t be a quick matter, it’d be done over time, if that’s the direction the council would choose to go,” he said. “I just foresee them putting in some restrictions just as large house parties and occupants.”

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