Zoning law could force 5 KSU students out of rental home

6:54 AM, Oct 3, 2013   |    comments
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  • Zoning variance notice for Acworth home rented by 5 KSU students
  • KSU students Caitlin Abshier, Brette Abshier and Elizabeth Wheeler in their Acworth rental home
  • Cobb County Police officer checks parking violation at Acworth home rented by 5 KSU students
  • KSU students Caitlin Abshier, Brette Abshier and Elizabeth Wheeler in their Acworth rental home

ACWORTH, Ga. -- Five Kennesaw State University students may soon be looking for a new home thanks to a Cobb County zoning ordinance.

The young women have been renting an Acworth home since late June, but got into trouble after some neighbor homeowners complained.

"I don't think they have the right representation of who we really are and I feel like it's really hurtful to us," tenant Elizabeth Wheeler told 11Alive News on Wednesday.

She and her four roommates each pay about $200 a month rent for the three-bedroom home. They say an apartment or campus housing would cost two or three times that much.

"We have the HOPE Scholarship; we're trying to avoid student loans," said tenant Caitlin Abshier, who said all five have full- or part-time jobs to help make ends meet.

An entrepreneur major, she already runs her own company, Revive Bath and Body, whose products can be found in several local stores.

Their trouble began when some homeowner neighbors, concerned with the image and value of their properties, complained about too many cars on their dead end street.

In fact, a Cobb County Police officer dropped by the Westover Trace address while 11Alive was there to check a street parking violation.

After neighbor complaints, the students and their landlord found out they were violating a Cobb County ordinance that does not allow more than two unrelated adults to share a home.

"There are a ton of students in the Kennesaw area, even some in this neighborhood, that have three or more students living in a house and we're the only ones being attacked right now," said renter Brette Abshier.

Previous experience with college tenants in their neighborhood is one reason some residents want the ordinance enforced.

"We've had college kids just a few doors down that decided they would have parties late into the night," homeowner Ben Chastain told 11Alive.

He said they littered the area with trash and beer bottles.

But this group of students claims they're different.

"We don't throw parties; we don't cause any trouble; if anything they have five babysitters that they could call," said Wheeler.

The Cobb County Planning Commission unanimously rejected their application for a zoning variance on Tuesday, saying they couldn't make an exception just based on how someone behaves.

The students and their landlord will appeal to the full Cobb County Commission on Oct. 15.

If they lose that round, they'll have until the end of December to move out.

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