Northampton Community College, the only community college in Pennsylvania that offers student housing, is bursting at the seams.
The dean of students, Mardi McGuire-Closson, recently implored members of the Bethlehem Township Commissioners to allow for zoning changes that would permit construction of new housing to more than double the current space and allow for an additional 300 students to live on campus.
Current zoning doesn’t allow for the addition, McGuire-Closson noted.
“In order to build more housing, we had to ask the township to change (the zoning). I asked them would they consider it… their reaction was fairly positive. It was a preliminary conversation,” she told Lehigh Valley Business.
According to McGuire-Closson, the school receives more than double the amount of applications from students seeking housing than they have space to accommodate.
Just last year, the school received more than 700 applications from students requesting housing, but it has just 265 spots to offer.
“Each fall, only half of the spaces are available,” McGuire-Closson said. This year, students competed for about 130 spots.
She estimates the addition will cost up to $20 million – money that would come from the college’s foundation.
The next step in the process would be for the township’s planning commission to recommend changes to the zoning to the township zoning office.