Rooming House Could Come to Mt. Airy

An Johnson Street resident is trying to turn one house into a seven-space short-term rental area.

A rooming house could be coming to Johnson Street, depending on what the East Mt. Airy Airy neighbors decide to do.

Mt. Airy resident Pamela McHerrin appeared before EMAN at their February meeting to seek support for her proposal to turn a single-family home at 229 E Johnson Street into a rooming house with seven separate spaces for rent.

Mcherrin, who has lived in the Johnson street area for 40 years, said she wanted to invest in a neighborhood that has seen a lot of vacancies in passing years.

"I want to provide people with a clean, decent place to live," she said. "Something that is affordable."

McHerrin said that she has been renting rooms for over a year at her 229 E Johnson house, and that her selection for tenants came from word-of-mouth referrals. She also claimed that she has imposed a set of rules limiting drug use, drinking and violence.

Most people stay at the house for about six months, she said.

"Some people go through hard times," she said. People need some help to get back on their feet and move on."

While the neighborhood group made no decision at their meeting, Derek Greene, the zoning official for the civic, said that rooming houses were not traditionally the kind of thing EMAN had supposed in years past.

"I've not seen us support something like this," Derek Greene said. "This is how neighborhoods change despite good intentions."

Board members also expressed concerns about what would happen if the property was sold or somehow moved from McHerrin's ownership.

"This block is a picture of extremes," board president Kent Reichert said. "Transiancy is never good for a community. It;s not fair, but I can see where they is some skepticism," he said.

The board will decide if they want to support the zoning application before its March meeting.

CH Hill February 12, 2013 at 12:45 PM
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