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Zoning board OKs student house

Exemption angers Juniata neighbors

Despite neighborhood opposition, the Altoona Zoning Hearing Board recently granted a special exception for a student house in Juniata, as required when properties meet the zoning ordinance criteria.

The board granted the special exception to Barry and Sandra Young of Kennett Square for a house at 213 N. Sixth Ave., over objections from neighbors about students — who are already living there — taking scarce parking spots on the street, making noise and leaving trash outside.

Those problems “disturb” him and “will be addressed,” Barry Young told the residents.

“We want nothing but to be good neighbors,” he added.

He’ll pull the lease from those who aren’t compliant, he said.

The couple bought the house so their son, a Penn State student whose name is also on the deed, could live there, along with three other student tenants, the Youngs said.

“This is a first-time experience for us,” Sandra Young said.

“We are not in this to make money,” Barry Young said. “Strictly to provide a good, safe housing environment for the boys.”

He’s willing to give the neighbors his phone number, so they can call him if problems continue, he said.

Other student homes nearby cause “bad problems,” neighbor Jerry Conrad said. “I’ve had my fulfillment of college houses,” he stated.

He questioned why the city would allow the Youngs to create a student home so close to existing ones.

There are zones in the city that prohibit new student houses within specified distances of existing ones, but there’s no “buffer” needed in neighborhood business zones like the one in which the Youngs’ house is located, board solicitor Traci Naugle explained.

The home has helped to compromise parking in the area, as there are six — not four — students with a total of five cars at the house, neighbor Jeff Shannon said.

He’s become leery of taking his car anywhere for fear that when he gets back, he won’t have a convenient spot, he said.

That concern will be aggravated in winter, if he shovels out a space, he said.

“I’m very aggrieved,” Shannon said. “The freedom we’ve had for decades is gone.”

The home has also compromised the peace in the area, as there was a party in the garage at the house at 2:30 one morning, said neighbor John Ardrey.

The neighbors are objecting in the wrong venue, according to board members.

Only City Council has the power to change the zoning ordinance, said Horace McAnuff.

He didn’t add that in this particular case, even Council couldn’t make a change, as a revised ordinance wouldn’t undo a prerogative that allowed the Youngs to establish the home for their son.

“You have a right to be there, based on the ordinance,” McAnuff told the Youngs.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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