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Lower Swatara residents raise concerns over PSU students; parking, living restrictions at issue

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 5/1/19

Concerns about Penn State Harrisburg students living in Lower Swatara Township have been voiced by two township residents during recent meetings.

Parking issues were raised, as were questions …

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Lower Swatara residents raise concerns over PSU students; parking, living restrictions at issue

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Concerns about Penn State Harrisburg students living in Lower Swatara Township have been voiced by two township residents during recent meetings.

Parking issues were raised, as were questions about whether the township had an ordinance similar to Middletown that regulated how many unrelated individuals could live in a single-family dwelling.

“There are legal ramifications to limiting the number of residents or cars, and we have to proceed cautiously and consult with legal counsel,” said Vice President Todd Truntz to the Press & Journal in an interview.

Lois Wald, who lives on Lakeside Drive, expressed concern about parking to the commissioners during their April 17 meeting. Wald’s concern was one residence, who she said had more vehicles that exceeded the allotted two spaces per town house.

This year, she said one of the town homes became a “Penn State house.” Her question was, can there be more people on the rental lease than available parking spots?

“You wake up in the morning, and there are seven additional cars parked around the neighborhood. … You’ve got seven cars with Penn State stickers all belonging to one house. That’s an issue,” Wald said.

Wald said there were two spaces in front as part of the townhouse’s property, and there are what she called overflow spaces on the street. Residents, she said, don’t take other residents’ unofficial spots, and some residents were opting to carpool to prevent the students from “monopolizing” the spaces.

Township solicitor Peter Henninger said the overflow spaces are public.

“We can’t limit how many cars you have. I don’t know that we can limit the number of people who live in the house because you’re going to have someone who has seven kids … You can’t prevent people from renting their homes out. It’s difficult. There’s no easy answer,” Henninger said.

Cars are allowed to park in public spots as long as they are registered and not abandoned, he said.

“I’m very disappointed, I have to say. I hear what you’re saying, and I knew I was going to hear it,” Wald said.

Commissioner Michael Davies recalled living in Harrisburg and had a parking permit, but his guests would receive parking tickets.

“Permit parking — all I can say is the cure is almost worse than the disease,” he said.

Parking permits have to be consistent, which Davies said meant everyone would need to get a permit.

“It becomes a burden in terms of the cost of permitting. It becomes an enforcement nightmare some times,” Davies said.

He asked Police Chief Jeff Vargo if he had experience and solutions in a similar situation.

Vargo, who previously served in Susquehanna Township, said they used permits through a local ordinance in a specific neighborhood around a school. Residents were issued permits, and Vargo said it became a “non-issue.”

Truntz told the Press & Journal that this was the first time that he heard concerns about parking since he got on the board, adding that the board would consider to discuss the issue, especially if they receive more complaints.

“I think the bottom line is people need to be considerate of their neighbor and understand that oftentimes there is not unlimited parking,” he said.

Rental concerns

Gregg Foltz, who lives in the Woodridge development, asked during the March 20 meeting if the township had an ordinance similar to Middletown that prohibits more than two unrelated people living in the same single-family dwelling.

Foltz said Triple Crown Corp., who is building townhouses in the development, is advertising for college students.

“The last thing we want coming through out neighborhood is a bunch of college kids, having three or four kids in each [townhouse],” Foltz said.

In an email, township Director of Codes and Planning Don Fure said Lower Swatara does not have an ordinance against more than two unrelated occupants living in a residence.