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Council looks to crack down on house parties

For University Heights residents, the start of the new school year brings with it a flood of students looking for a good time.

The students – sometimes hundreds at a time – travel from the University at Buffalo’s North Campus in Amherst to the streets off Main Street in the city to go to house parties.

“It kind of blew my mind when I took a ride down Main Street to see hundreds, I mean hundreds of students just walking down the street into various streets where there were parties,” said University Council Member Rasheed N.C. Wyatt. He saw “about 300 to 400 kids just drinking and partying without any concern for the residents,” he said.

Wyatt is seeking to limit the number of people allowed in a house at a single time in an effort to keep the peace in the neighborhood, and to give police another tool to break up large gatherings, he said.

The Common Council on Tuesday adopted Wyatt’s measure, which asks the city Law Department to examine whether the city could restrict housing occupancy, or mass gatherings, in University Heights.

In other business:

• The Council adopted a plan to coordinate development in neighborhoods with the city school system. Majority Leader Demone A. Smith said that people want to move into city neighborhoods that are seeing greater investment but the condition of public schools discourages that.

Neighborhoods can be built “around the school buildings, and have these school buildings be places where the community can access and make a total community,” Smith said.

A lack of cooperation between city planners and the school district impedes development, he said. Several Council members spoke in favor of a return to neighborhood schools, where students attend the school closest to their homes.

• A market and pharmacy planned for the Fruit Belt moved another step forward Tuesday when the Council agreed to sell four parcels in the 200-block of High Street to a development agency affiliated with St. John Baptist Church.

St. John Fruit Belt Community Development Corp. will purchase 226 High St., 232 High St., 236 High St., and 238 High St. for a total of $6,900.

The development had been planned nearby, at 204 High St., but preservation advocates said that a building that stood on that site is historic and should not be torn down.

The development corporation agreed to move the project to a neighboring location, but needed to acquire land from the city to do so.