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State College Borough Council approves zoning changes restricting the height of downtown apartment high-rises

building construction
Min Xian

Monday night, the State College Borough Council voted 5-2 to approve a new zoning ordinance intended to limit the building of high-rise buildings that only contain student apartments.

The borough has seen an increase in 12-story apartment buildings since loosening zoning in recent years. This change will only allow these taller buildings in the “Signature Development Overlay” district of downtown State College if developers include a certain amount of commercial space.

During the public comment period of the meeting, residents said they worried about changes to the overall look of downtown and that outside developers were taking advantage of the community.

Council President Jesse Barlow cited the availability of downtown student housing and the lack of development in the required commercial space in the recently built high-rises as reasoning for his support of the ordinance.

"We've been outbuilding the growth of the number of students for quite a while — since I've been on council," Barlow said. "I really don't want to see us building more buildings that don't rent their commercial space."

Peter Marshall is a member of the State College Borough Council who voted for the zoning change.

"I think this action is something that we should've done long ago," Marshall said.

Opponents of the zoning change said they worried it would decrease the number of available apartments in an already strained housing economy.

Katie Knol is a WPSU radio news intern for fall 2022.