ALLEGANY — When Allegany Mayor Greg Pearl drove down a village street this past weekend, he heard noise from parties and saw a large party raided at two-family and multi-family dwellings.
Pearl offered that scenario as an example of why the village is considering enacting a six-month moratorium on restricting single-family homes from being converted into apartments that house numerous people during Monday’s public hearing on the topic.
The meeting, held at the municipal building, was attended by several homeowners who expressed concern with the trend of landlords creating apartment houses from single-family structures, then renting them to college students.
Pearl said he has approached the villages’s Zoning Board of Appeals and expressed his concerns about multi-family homes springing up around the community.
Pearl, other officials and property owners at the meeting all agreed that homes in the village housing several students, presumably from nearby St. Bonaventure University, have been on the increase in the past decade or so. At present, they believe there are at least 40 houses in the village that have been converted. They said what appears to be happening is older homes are placed on the market after the owner dies or moves. Those same homes are then purchased by landlords who renovate them into structures for numerous students.
Pearl said the multiple-family homes could hurt home values, but he noted a moratorium could also hurt property owners who are trying to sell their older homes that are already near other homes rented to college students.
“That’s why I thought we’d have a couple of meetings and at least put a moratorium on this,” Pearl said. “What we’re looking for is two things: one is the quality of life of everybody around it” and the possible effect on property values.
Resident Edna Wintermantel posed a question — “How do we want Allegany to look?” — to those at the meeting.
“As you drive into Allegany, there are all these college houses,” she said. “Do we want it to look like a college town with a fraternity and sorority look? I’m afraid it could get worse.”
Sue Finn said that by April in the school year, a number of multi-family homes with students become run-down looking with couches on porches and debris.
“I don’t know what it would hurt to have a moratorium to stop it for just a moment, just to think,” she said.
When a man in the audience asked Pearl what a multi-family home is defined as, the mayor said it can be applied to a home that is turned into multiple apartments or a home that has four or more unrelated people living in it.
Pearl shared his own experience of driving along Union Street in the village this past weekend.
“I was out in the cop cars Saturday night … and I don’t know how anyone lives on Union Street; I’ve never seen anything like it,” Pearl said. “They raided a party and there must have been 100 kids in the street. They weren’t letting cars through.”
One of the homeowners at the meeting said a lot of study and research has to be done on the topic to come up with a long-term solution.
Pearl said the board expects to meet with the St. Bonaventure student board to determine if there is something that can be done on the campus level.
“We’re pushing for a representative from each off-campus house to come in to a meeting,” Pearl continued, adding the students need to know of the village officials’ concerns. “We feel there is an issue and what can we do to resolve the issue.”
While the board hopes to speak to the student representatives, he said it ultimately will be up to the village to come up with a solution.
“I think it’s a village issue and we’re all in this together,” Pearl added.
A message seeking comment from St. Bonaventure officials on the meeting was not returned Monday night.