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Lehigh Valley

Residents still seek changes to proposed Lafayette College dorms

Residents still seek changes to...

EASTON, Pa. - A proposed housing project for students at Lafayette College in Easton is getting a failing grade from nearby residents. The buildings would go up just off campus in the city's College Hill neighborhood.   

There are two major issues with the project right now: one is how to handle the additional need for parking in the area; the other is more cosmetic. Residents want the building to match the historic area.

In December, the plan for the empty lot at Cattell and High streets looked like a big box that would house retail space and dorms above it. Members of the Village of College Hill community group came out strong, voicing their displeasure.

"There's concerns. There's no question about it," said Mary Liz Colley, the group's president. "This is an area that is called in transition and suddenly, it may not be in transition at all."

Lafayette College is trying to stretch the campus. The new dorms would add retail space and housing not only on Cattell and High streets, but also on McCartney and High streets. Four-hundred additional students would be housed, according to the college.

People living in the area said there are going to be problems with parking, and the look of the buildings needs to change.

"I like to think that we value the college and they value us," added Colley. "What we are asking for is the standard that they have over here, which is wonderful, is the standard that they would use in our community."

Planners for Lafayette did make changes. The buildings have gone from having a flat roof to those with more of a pitch. The need for the number of parking spaces has been reduced, and the zoning that would include changing the height of buildings north of High Street has been changed to save neighborhoods with Victorian housing.

Still, not all are pleased, because they want more assurances that the neighborhood will look the same after the buildings are constructed.

"There's some areas that are not owned by the college, so if we give it a blanket zoning, someone else can come in, put up something that they wouldn't need our approval," said Colley. "We have two months to work those out."

69 News did reach out to Lafayette College for a comment, but no one was available.

College planners did table the issue until April before taking the plans to the Easton Planning Commission. The hope is to get more people living in the area onboard with the project.

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