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House Panel Gets Earful On Hearing Regarding Single-Family Homes As College Student Rentals

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A Pennsylvania House panel got an earful while conducting a hearing in West Chester on proposed legislation to preempt local ordinances that restrict the use of single-family homes as college student rentals.

Lower Merion Township Commissioner Scott Zelov told members of the House Local Government Committee they already have a township ordinance to regulate student rentals off the Villanova campus.

Zelov says they have, for the most part, been able to strike a balance between family occupied and college student occupied neighborhoods.

"Our ordinance, which has been in place for 25-years, has been a tried and true approach," Zelov said.

(credit: Steve Tawa/KYW)

Officials involved in town-gown relations with Penn State, West Chester University, and Millersville University also weighed in and urged committee members to reject the bill.

State College Borough Manager Tom Fountaine says they followed Lower Merion's lead in allowing no more than three unrelated people in one house, with a 500-foot separation to another student house.

West Chester Borough Mayor Carolyn Comitta and Millersville Mayor Richard Moriarty also urged committee members to reject the bill.

State Representative Madeleine Dean, a member of the committee, found their testimony valuable.

"I'm a skeptic of anytime the state wants to swoop in and decide what's best for other communities," Dean explained.

Supporters of House Bill 809, including landlord associations, contend local ordinances are discriminatory against students.

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