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City Council votes down fraternity house proposal

Editor in Chief

After gaining the support of the Oxford City Planning Commission in April to renovate a Vine Street house, the brothers of Chi Psi thought the hard part of finding a fraternity house was over.

They were wrong.

Coming as a surprise to the fraternity, especially President Chris Heiden, City Council voted down a conditional use permit at its June 3 meeting by a vote of 3-4.

"We were quite surprised. We were under the impression the Planning Commission was the hardest part," he said. "City Council is not known for overturning (decisions made by the Planning Commission)."

The proposal faced criticism from residents and council members who were concerned about increased traffic, the negative effects the change could have on nearby residents, and the placement of a dumpster.

One resident, however, said the $1 million the fraternity would invest in improvements in the property would help the community. Additionally, he said the small amount of land area fraternities own in the city are in close proximity to the university. He said the density of fraternity presence off-campus is similar at other universities in the area.

The property was ideal for the fraternity, which started at Miami in 2005 and has been unable to find a house.

"The house is on two lots and one is not developed, so it would allow for (an) extension (of the residence)," Heiden said.

Heiden said the fraternity signed a contract with the current owner of the property to buy the house if zoning plans were approved by the Planning Commission and the City Council and if the purchase could be financed.

After the council's vote, Heiden said the fraternity would continue to look for a house.

"It's apparent for the fraternity to survive, it needs a lodge," he said.

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Heiden said a few fraternities might have to leave their houses in the next few years because of decreasing numbers. Heiden said Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) is one house that could be on the market soon.