Cape council asks staff to regulate overcrowded dwellings

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Cape Girardeau City Council members want to prevent overcrowding of tenants in rented homes that has caused an "Animal House" college atmosphere in some single-family residential neighborhoods.

The council on Monday night instructed city manager Doug Leslie to begin the process of adopting new regulations that would allow city officials to ask the municipal judge to issue search warrants to inspect residential houses in cases where tenant overcrowding is suspected.

New regulations also may include a more narrow definition for "family" that would allow as many as three unrelated persons to live in a house together. In addition, they could rent space to as many as two boarders.

As a result, as many as five unrelated people could live in the same house, city officials said.

Councilman Jay Purcell said homes in old neighborhoods are being turned into boarding houses.

"Before long, it looks like 'Animal House' on a Friday or Saturday night," he said, referring to the popular movie about college-student antics.

Councilwoman Marcia Ritter said overcrowded rental houses pose a safety issue. Police chief Steve Strong said they also create on-street traffic problems and result in tenants parking their cars on the front lawn.

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