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Provo ordinance limits new student housing

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PROVO — An ordinance passed Tuesday by Provo's City Council should curb the number of student housing complexes built in the Joaquin neighborhood.

The neighborhood sits at the foot of Brigham Young University and is the city's most densely populated. City records indicate 93 percent of the homes there are rentals.

Joaquin neighborhood also claims some of the city's premiere historic homes, and some longtime residents have worried for years that the homes will be destroyed to make room for student housing complexes. Developers demolished several such homes last year to build student housing.

The council Tuesday approved three ordinances that should dramatically affect the future of the Joaquin neighborhood.

The new laws prohibit construction of large apartment complexes in Joaquin and establish design standards for residential neighborhoods that specify, among other things, the height of buildings and the type of fencing allowed around the front yard.

Because the ordinances will prevent new student housing in Joaquin — existing rental properties will not be affected — some critics say its intent is to push students out of the neighborhoods surrounding an area covered in the South Campus Area Master Plan.

SCAMP is a proposal to create a student village that will include shops and housing for students on 30 square blocks south of BYU.

The council will discuss SCAMP at its Jan. 22 meeting.

"There is a high demand for property (in the Joaquin neighborhood) and there always will be," said Cal Monson, who has developed property in the area. "It seems kind of naive for the city to think they can change that by passing an ordinance."

Monson said he doesn't understand why the council is trying to revitalize a neighborhood that is almost entirely comprised of students who rent.

Real estate agent Ann Fairchild said prohibiting development in Joaquin is unfair to her clients who have counted on property there for retirement income.

While the council's action upset people like Fairchild who rely on property in Joaquin for their livelihood, it pleased others who believe rental property has overrun their neighborhood.

E-MAIL: jhyde@desnews.com