District 2 candidates debate hot topics

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Current District 2 representative Stephanie Abbott and write-in opponent Andrew Denman are battling over several issues as they prepare for the upcoming Whitewater Common Council election.

The District 2 seat they are vying for is comprised mostly of UW-Whitewater students.

Abbott

Abbott, a senior at UW-Whitewater, and Denman, a junior, discussed multiple topics, including zoning and parking, at a recent council forum.

Whitewater is in a re-zoning year, and Abbott said there is a strong push for certain parts of the city zoning to be changed.

One such proposal would allow only three non-related individuals to live in a building regardless of the number of bedrooms.

This would mean even if a house has five bedrooms, only three people would be able to live there. The landlord would still have to charge tenants the same rate to maintain the building, leading to an increase in the price of rent.

“A lot of landlords are forced to change their properties into duplexes based on zoning policies,” Abbott said. “That doesn’t really serve anyone well, landlord or tenant.”

Abbott said she is in favor of a bedroom-based zoning policy. If there are five bedrooms in a house, then five people should be able to live there.

Denman, however, believes a different type of zoning law should be put in place. He said based on a study conducted by the Fiscal and Economic Research Center at UW-Whitewater, the three major issues concerning off campus student housing are noise, garbage and disrespect from student neighbors.

Denman

“This is obviously problematic,” Denman said.  “It requires that we possibly zone a special way that represents more like the dorms.”

Denman is proposing the city zone more like the campus residence halls.

It would be set up where students who prefer a quieter living area reside in one part of the city and students who do not mind noise, or who are noisy themselves, live in another part of the city.

Denman said he believes this type of zoning would keep the noise levels down and help improve the relationships between students and other Whitewater residents.

Abbott disagreed with Denman’s solution.

“I would be concerned with grouping students who are easy to live by and who are difficult to live by,” Abbott said. “I don’t know any landlord who wants to have a loud, wild bunch of people in their house.”

Denman said his zoning policy was merely an idea and that he would have to look into it further.

The other major issue discussed at the forum was parking on campus.

Abbott said the idea of placing parking meters on Prince and Prairie Streets was not communicated in the best way to the student body, and she wants it re-addressed by the council.

The most significant reason the council wants to place meters on those streets is because of the high amount of traffic.

“The streets are not in the best of shape,” Abbott said. “They’re parked on tremendously more than other streets and driven on tremendously more than other streets.”

Originally the council discussed banning parking on the streets completely. But the conclusion was reached to meter the streets and use the money to maintain them.

Abbott said she believes a parking permit system will be a better way to control the amount of parking on the streets. She added it would be hard to for the city not to charge  all seven days per week on Prince and Prairie Streets.

“There has to be a compromise somewhere,” she said. “It’s a give and take area. We can’t necessarily have it our way all the time.”

Denman agreed that some sort of payment structure would have to be put into effect in order to properly maintain the streets.

Abbott, who used to serve on WSG, said she plans to work closely with WSG and Parking Services to ensure the amount of parking permits issued does not exceed the actual amount of spaces available.

Many students have heard whispers about the possibility of a parking structure to be built on campus, but Abbott said that is not something she foresees in the near future.

Whitewater is not an urbanized community. The city tends to shy away from things of that nature and there isn’t zoning in place to accommodate a parking structure, Abbott said.

Abbott said the campus and community would be working to “find a positive solution for all involved parties.”

The District 2 election will take place on April 3. All students living on campus can vote in the University Center, while those living off campus can vote in the Armory downtown.