Variance Board Denies Permit For Sorority House At Fort Wood

Neighbors Cite Cursing, Drinking, Sex In Yard At Fraternity

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The City Variance Board on Wednesday morning voted unanimously to deny a special permit for a sorority house in the middle of a residential block in historic Fort Wood.

A large number of Fort Wood residents filled the meeting room to protest the proposed Kappa Delta Sorority house at 836 Vine St.

Residents said Fort Wood already has two fraternity houses and two sorority houses and does not need more.

An alumni representative of the group said Kappa Delta is the only UTC sorority without its own house.

She said it was planned for 10 sorority members and an older housemother to live in the brick residence that is offered for sale by Porter Yarbrough.

She said the group has one sorority meeting a week attended by 65 members and it is over as early as 7:30 p.m. She said no alcohol would be allowed at the house and doors would be locked at 11 p.m.

She said there was adequate parking in the rear.

A city inspector said the site had adequate parking and met other code requirements.

But Fort Wood residents said it would worsen parking problems and devalue property because of the added noise.

Dr. Tom Bibler, president of the neighborhood association and longtime UTC professor, said 71 residents had signed a petition in opposition.

He noted the presence of the other sorority and fraternity houses and said, "there is a limit to what a neighborhood should endure."

David Eichenthal, who lives next to the site, said he and his wife had invested over $100,000 in remodeling their historic home.

He said the sorority members would likely use his driveway to get to the parking area rather than a rear alley.

He said it was "the wrong use in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Mr. Eichenthal said Fort Wood has been changing for the better - with extensive investment by homeowners.

A woman who lives on Fort Wood Street near a fraternity said it "seems to be a 24-hour, 365-days-a-year business."

She said there was loud cursing at all hours, sex in the yard, smoking of marijuana, and boys and girls alike using the bathroom in the yard.

A woman on Oak Street said she is near a fraternity where there is constant abuse of alcohol.

She said that fraternity house is in a rundown condition.

UTC Vice Chancellor Hubert Prevost said the university had been working with the neighborhood on problems related to the fraternity and sorority houses.

He said students in those residences are under the discipline of the university.

Vice Chancellor Richard Brown said there had been discussion of construction of facilities for Greek-letter organizations, but the student groups had not been able to afford the cost.

He said another idea was to group members of an organization at one end of current student housing.


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