New zoning law would hurt college-town rentals

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Q: We own a four-bedroom, single-family home in a university town, which we rent to students. Our neighbors have been complaining about noise and traffic. There's a movement now afoot to change the zoning laws to provide that a "family" be defined as prohibiting more than two unrelated occupants from living together in a single-family neighborhood. This will make it very hard for us to keep the property (we'll have to drop the rent if we can't rent to more than two unrelated students). Any suggestions? --Sharon and Matt D. A: When large universities rely substantially on the local town to house their students, it's common to hear neighbors complain of noise, traffic and diminution of property values. Zoning ordinances like the one you describe are a likely response, and none other than the U.S. Supreme Court has blessed them. Back in 1974, a similar ordinance in the Village of Belle Terre, N.Y., got the OK from Justice Douglas, who wrote, "A quiet place where yards are wid...