When I think of spring, I think of BBQ's with friends, fresh air blowing through open windows, green lawns, daffodils, and visiting with neighbors who seem to disappear during the winter months. If your student currently lives in the residence halls, this information may come in handy if they decide to move off campus in the future to join the vast majority of our 25,000 students who live throughout the Fort Collins community! As a parent or family member of a CSU student, this may be a great time of year to have a conversation about "good neighboring" practices.
You might be able to begin this discussion by simply asking your student how many neighbors they know on their street. Encourage them to meet the neighbors on all four sides of their residence and explain that a first meeting should be a friendly one, not related to a complaint. Students should be aware that having a good relationship with neighbors can reduce crime and improve overall quality of life. It is nice to know you have someone on your block who you can count on to perhaps bring in your newspaper if you are away, watch out for your pets should they get loose, or let you borrow a lawnmower when you need one.
Advise your student to keep their neighbors informed. When leaving town for a long weekend or vacation, it is wise to notify neighbors in advance so they can keep an eye out for suspicious activity around the house. Another good practice is to contact neighbors prior to undertaking something that might affect them…like hosting a party or building a fence.
With warm weather comes an increase in noise complaints, conflicts over barking dogs and frustrations surrounding lawn maintenance. Often times, minor annoyances are not addressed and silent resentment begins to build. Being aware of local codes/ordinances, HOA covenants, and general expectations of the neighborhood may help reduce potential conflict. Students benefit by understanding the following codes/ordinances unique to Fort Collins:
Yard Maintenance: Weeds and grass cannot exceed a height of 6 inches in yards and alleys or 12 inches in fields or underdeveloped lots within City limits.
Trash: Trash must be stored in a can with a tight-fitting lid, or in sealed plastic bags. Accumulations of rubbish (vehicle parts, tires, scrap lumber, old appliances, leaves/branches) violate nuisance codes. Trash can be set out no longer than 12 hours before the scheduled pick-up.
Furniture: Furniture designed for indoor use cannot be placed in yards or in unenclosed porches.
Noise: Just how much noise is too much noise? Fort Collins Police Officers respond to noise/parties on a complaint basis. This means someone has been disturbed in the neighborhood, who then calls their complaint into law enforcement. The responding police officer has the discretion to decide if the noise coming from the property is unreasonable. If the noise is determined unreasonable, they can issue a ticket with a fine up to $1000 per resident for the first offense.
Pets: All dogs and cats within City limits must be licensed yearly through the Larimer Humane Society. Pets are required to be kept on a leash if they are not confined to a fenced yard or designated dog park.
Lifestyle differences have also been the premise for neighborhood conflicts. It is important for students to be conscientious of the differences between themselves and their neighbors. Age, faith, ethnic background, and family status can drastically impact how one goes about their daily life.
There are times when neighbors simply cannot work out their disputes and must find some way to live together despite their differences. Students should consider utilizing the Community Mediation program which is a free service to all persons living within the city limits. With the guidance of professionally trained mediators, neighbors can come together in a neutral setting to resolve their dispute in a way that fosters creativity, communication and compromise. The effectiveness of mediation is directly related to the participants' willingness to settle their differences permanently, without the cost and hassle of the alternatives (lawsuits, police action, relocation, retaliation). Mediation is also a great option for students who are having roommate disputes and/or conflicts with their landlord. For more information about the Community Mediation program, go to: http://fcgov.com/neighborhoodservices/
We want your student to feel connected to the neighborhood in which they reside. Help them remember that neighborly gestures go a long way!