Wacoans express frustration toward students

By Katie Grovatt, Reporter

Multiple Waco residents brought complaints of Baylor students’ living habits to the city’s Plan Commission Board meeting on Aug. 25, and will have another opportunity to express frustration at tonight’s City Council meeting.

The board was discussing the proposed overlay expansions of the college and university neighborhoods district around the Baylor campus. This district was created for the purpose of imposing more stringent design, construction, and parking requirements in the neighborhoods around campus.

“We are aware that there has been all these changes to the Baylor landscape, that’s why we are trying to protect the character of the semi rural area that is left,” said Plan Commission Chairman, Jose Villanueva.

The Plan Commission is proposing an ordinance amendment that would require bigger lots for these buildings as well as creating limits on the number of occupants, encouraging smaller houses with fewer occupants to be built.

The ordinance amendment is designed to only impact new development, encouraging more Baylor expansion, while also regulating the expansion in order to protect city residents.

“There will be no impact to current residents. The amendment only impacts new development and will protect the existing neighborhood out there,” said Clint Peters, director of Planning Services for the city of Waco.

When given an opportunity to respond, Bonnie Kemf, a Waco resident who has lived on South Fourth Street since 1985, stepped up to the stand almost immediately and expressed a long list of concerns. She then presented the commission with many pictures that included trashcans on the streets and nude bathers.

“Baylor students do not make good neighbors,” Kemf said, while answered with cheers from the audience. “They do not care how trashy what they do is, they have dogs and they don’t even put a cover over those dogs’ pens because they don’t care. If the dog dies, ‘Oh well mom and dad just will buy me another one.’”

According to Kemf, every permanent resident in that area cleans up all their trashcans and yards while the only areas left unkempt are those belonging to Baylor students. The regulations seem to only apply to the taxpayers.

“These Baylor kids, once they leave, they probably never even think of Waco, Texas, being home. This is my home,” Kemf said before leaving the stand.

Silvia Ashley, a resident on South Third Street, told the Plan Commission regarding Baylor students, “They’re going to do what they want to do and it’s going to impact us, the ones that live there. Your job as the city is to make sure students put up their trash and park where they’re supposed to, comply with the rules. You can make all kinds of ordinances but you are failing to enforce them.”

The Plan Commission urged disgruntled residents to address the City Council with their complaints.

“I think the City Council is a much better venue to air your concerns,” said commission member Joshua Carter.

The next City Council meeting will be tonight. There will be another public hearing regarding this legislation before the Council votes on the proposed overlay expansion.