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College Station City Council approves new zoning measure, Mayor expects pushback

Restricted Occupancy Overlay would give neighborhoods the option to restrict house occupants based on whether they are related or not

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — College Station City Council has approved the “Restricted Occupancy Overlay”, a measure that would give neighborhoods the option to request a zoning overlay where no more than two unrelated persons can live in the same house. 

With “ROO” going into effect, neighbors have the right to petition the city so that housin their neighborhood can restrict residents living in the same house who are not related.

College Station Mayor Karl Mooney said the ordinance could be difficult to pass since properties owned in the city are by people who do not live in the area.

“The more that you have absentee landlords, the more difficult it’s going to be to get that consensus.” Mayor Mooney said. “A non-vote is a no vote. There will be neighborhoods that are in close proximity to the university that are likely to be the one to find the most difficult to do.” 

The mayor was one of two council members who voted against the proposition and said he did so to point out the measure’s shortcomings and is expecting to see legal challenges, especially centering around the definition of “family.”

“Families no longer need to include a married couple,” Mooney said. “They no longer need to include a couple that is of different genders and the Supreme Court has made that very clear. So when you consider that, and think of what is related and unrelated, and you look at the city’s current definition, I would not be surprised if that were challenged in the courts.”

Mooney hopes that the university and neighborhoods continue to work with the city council to build a successful community. 

“In a successful community, it cannot be just about buildings.” the mayor said. “It’s got to be about the people that inhabit them and how we get along with each other.” 

Along with education and enhancing levels of empathy, he hopes people on both sides of the argument can reach an agreement. 

“We talk about the quality of life in College Station, how we can make it better,” Mayor Mooney said. “We can make it better just by being better ourselves.”

Though the measure is now passed, opponents of it are not able to petition the city’s decision for ten days.