Lehigh Valley

Lafayette appeals planning decision to reject dorms

College wants to bring 400 more students to campus

EASTON, Pa. - Lafayette College is appealing the Easton Planning Commission’s decision not to approve a proposed expansion that would have included student housing and multi-use retail space on College Hill.

The city's planning commission in September denied the college's subdivision plan and special exception requests that would have paved the way for two four-story buildings Cattell Street and around High, McCartney, March and Marquis streets.

The college's decision to appeal the planning commission ruling was announced during Wednesday's Easton City Council meeting. City council, as the appeal board, will hear both sides of the case on Nov. 9.

A pending resolution will set a hearing procedure and an appropriate time limit for both sides to make their arguments.

Lafayette spent about nine months making its case before city officials for changes in zoning regulations that would allow for the expansion and for land development plans. The college proposes increasing its student population by 400, which in return allows the college to fund more financial aid.

Plans included one building that contains a 7,500-square-foot campus store, a 4,700-square-foot diner and three upper floors of student housing. A second building would include 3,600 square feet of first-floor retail space and three more floors of student housing. The two buildings would include 224 beds.

The project requires the college to consolidate 14 properties on McCartney, March, Cattell and High streets, prompting residents to express concerns about losing the neighborhood's historical architecture. Residents and planning commissioners also repeatedly expressed concerns over parking.

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