As You Move Off-Campus by sdfsb346f


									                                                            Fall 1999

As You Move Off-Campus

     A guide for Virginia Tech students:
 What you need to know as you move into
off-campus housing in Blacksburg, Virginia

                             Published by:

                             Virginia Tech
               Office of Residential and Dining Programs
                          with assistance from:

   University Unions and Student Activities/Off-Campus Housing Center
   Town of Blacksburg/Planning & Engineering and Police Departments
              Town/Gown Community Relations Committee
                                                                                           Summer 1999

Dear Student:

        Both Virginia Tech and the Town of Blacksburg welcome you to the Blacksburg Community. Other
students and community members suggested that it would be helpful to have a publication which would
summarize some of the important information which you should know as you move out of residence halls
and/or live off campus for the first time as a University student. With considerable input from students, staff,
community members, and Town of Blacksburg officials, this publication has been prepared. It is not designed
to be a totally comprehensive publication, but rather one we believe covers the most critical issues with which
you are likely to be faced as an off campus student.

       We also invite you to consult a number of web pages which are relevant and may be helpful to you:
Virginia Tech Home Page ( ), Town of Blacksburg Home page (, Blacksburg
Electronic Village (, the Virginia Tech Off-Campus Housing Center (, Student
Legal Services (, and Residential and Dining Programs (

        Moving off campus changes your responsibilities and opportunities in many ways from on-campus
living. You will be responsible for getting and cooking your own food, paying your rent and utilities each
month, and being thoughtful about living in a civic community. Some advantages of off-campus life are
greater access to town facilities, more opportunities to use personal transportation, and a greater sense of self-
reliance. The most important benefit may be that you will be a neighbor to those around you.

         You can enjoy the friendship of your neighbors and have the opportunity to be a friend to them.
Membership in this kind of neighborly community includes many intangible benefits. Your main responsibility
is to be a good neighbor who is considerate. Most neighborhoods have a character that is unique and choosing
to live in a neighborhood means that you also choose to adopt that character. So, look at what your neighbors
do about maintaining property, parking cars, having parties and getting together, and try your best to fit in.
Good neighbors make lifelong friends. This will enrich your time in Blacksburg and your experience as a

        We hope that your off-campus experience will be a positive one for you and we invite you to call upon
the various resources outlined in this publication for assistance as you need it.


                                                     Edward F. D. Spencer, Ph.D.
                                                     Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs
                                                     and Director of Residential and Dining Programs

Alcohol Laws and Policies
        It is illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia to consume alcoholic beverages under the age of 21.
Likewise, it is unlawful for anyone to consume alcoholic beverages in public areas including yards, streets,
parking lots, etc. (Blacksburg Code 18.2-388). Even if you are 21, it is illegal to drive a vehicle under the
influence or to be drunk in public.
        Students who are in violation of alcohol laws can expect to be arrested. Additionally, the Blacksburg
and Virginia Tech Police Departments send referrals to Virginia Tech’s Office of Judicial Affairs for all alcohol
offenses involving a summons or arrest. The University treats off-campus alcohol violations the same as it does
an on-campus violation and takes appropriate judicial action. Additionally, be aware that the University does
notify the parents of students under the age of 21 who are found guilty of a serious violation of an alcohol
policy or law which occurs on- or off-campus. For more information please review the University Alcohol Plan

        Twenty-four hour emergency ambulance service is available from the Blacksburg Rescue Squad by
dialing 911.

        Please check with your landlord for lease guidelines on pet ownership; many apartment complexes do
not permit pets of any kind. Animals are discussed in Chapter 5 of the Town Code. House pets are defined as
cats, dogs, birds, rodents, fish, and some species of reptiles and are considered animals that are kept for personal
use or enjoyment within the home. Typical issues that are brought to the attention of town staff for
investigation are: number of dogs (no more than three allowed); dogs that disturb the peace by barking in a
loud, continuous and untimely manner; dogs off owner’s property without a leash and animals defecating off
owners property (must be cleaned up immediately).
        Wild animals listed as dangerous animals in the Town Code must be registered with the Town annually.
Livestock (regardless of size) are only permitted in the rural residential zoning districts. Please be aware that
placing debris such as cat litter in the sanitary sewer system (commode or sinks) is prohibited because it will
clog the sewer lines.
        If you are planning to have a pet, be sure that this is approved by your landlord and is permitted
according to the terms of your lease. In addition, there are a number of regulations in the Town Code with
respect to pets:

1.     Owners of dogs must secure them by a leash or other means of restraint not harmful to the dog
2.     Owners of dogs shall not allow them to run at large within the town (4-31).
3.     You must clean up after your dog and properly dispose of the material (4-32).

Bike Paths
       The Town of Blacksburg and the University have an extensive network of bike paths. A bicycle route
map is available at the Municipal Building. Cyclists are required to observe all traffic regulations; riding
bicycles on sidewalks is specifically prohibited.

       Bonfires have strict guidelines. Open burning is not allowed without a permit. The permit is free and
must be requested in writing from the Fire Chief at least five working days in advance.
        Remember to add into your monthly lease costs the additional (often overlooked) costs: telephone,
cable television, electricity, furnishings, insurance, etc.

       The Town of Blacksburg operates the Blacksburg Transit System which runs throughout the town and
University campus. Students may ride the buses at no additional charge by showing their Hokie Passport since
students pay towards the bus system through their comprehensive fee. Complete information on the BT may be
obtained through their web page ( ).

Cable Television
        Arrangements for cable television service in Blacksburg can be made through Adelphia Cable
Entertainment (552-3341).

Data Connection
        Information on obtaining modem or ethernet connection service to the University computer system is
contained in the Hokie Handbook in the computing center section. This information may also be accessed by
clicking on the “Computing” button on the Virginia Tech Homepage (

Drinking in Public
        It is unlawful to consume alcoholic beverages in public areas, including yards, streets, and parking lots,
etc. (Town Code 18.2-388).

       Electricity in the Town of Blacksburg is supplied either by American Electric Power (1-800-956-4237)
or by Virginia Tech Electric Service (231-6437). Arrangements for new service should be made by calling the
company which services your residential building; check with your landlord to determine which company
services your property.

     For emergency services (fire, police, rescue squad), please dial 911.

Fake I.D.’s
        It is unlawful to manufacture, possess, sell, and/or use a fake or altered ID or operators license to
establish a false identity or to buy alcoholic beverages (Town Code 18.2-204.1 and 46.2-347).

Fire Department
       In an emergency, the Fire Department can be reached by dialing 911. There are two fire stations in
Blacksburg, one on Progress Street and one on Prices Fork Road across from the Hethwood Shopping Center.

        Basically, within Blacksburg, anything that explodes is illegal (Town Code 9-62). Large displays of
fireworks require a permit. Further information is outlined in Chapter 17 of the Town Code concerning public
      While you will certainly want to experiment with cooking many of your own meals, remember that off-
campus students can still choose to purchase one of the many meal plans offered through the University.

        Be sure that you know who your landlord is and how to reach that person or the property maintenance
office at all times of the day. This information should be provided to you with your lease.

        Remember that once you are 18, you are legally responsible for all documents which you sign, including
a lease for a residence hall or an off-campus house or apartment. Read carefully the terms of your lease and
know its provisions before you sign it. Remember that you and you roommates are jointly and separately held
responsible for payments of your lease. In a residence hall room you are responsible for your own individual
space. Some off-campus rentals also allow individual leases per bedroom, but most have just one lease for the
whole rental unit which makes you and/or your roommates responsible for the lease.

Legal Services
       The Student Legal Services Office is located in 143 Squires Student Center and can be reached at 231-
4720. Their web page contains a variety of information, including renter’s information, which may be helpful

        Be a good neighbor to the community and ensure that you do not litter any property. It is unlawful to
deposit any refuse or matter around public or private property (Town Code 16-35).

       Recognize that you are part of a neighborhood and spend some time meeting and greeting your
neighbors. You expect your neighbors to treat you with respect; please be sure that you do the same for and
with others in your building and in buildings and homes that adjoin yours.

        A part of being a good neighbor is to ensure that noise from your home does not disturb others. Stereos,
radios, televisions, live bands, etc. audible at 50 ft. from the source or through partitions common to two
dwelling units constitute a violation of the noise ordinance of the Town of Blacksburg (Town Code 15-4).
Police officers can and will issue a summons to those who violate this ordinance.
        Noise can be a critical issue and is addressed in Chapter 13 of the Town Code. A noise disturbance is
any sound which annoys or disturbs another person. The noise ordinance is in force 24-hours a day and
noise complaints should be reported to the Police Department by calling 961-1150. Any person convicted
of a noise violation can be jailed for a six-month period and fined up to $1,000.

         Public nudity of any sort is, of course, prohibited by law (Town Code 14-108).
Occupancy Limits
       The number of people who can live in a house (occupancy) varies by district. In a neighborhood of
separate homes, the number of residents is limited to three individuals, or a family plus two roomers. In the
apartment areas, the number of residents per apartment is limited to four individuals or a family plus two
roomers on the entire property. If you have questions about occupancy, please check with your property
manager or owner or call the Blacksburg Planning and Engineering department at 961 -1126.

Off-Campus Behavior
       Virginia Tech does take action through the student judicial system for serious violations of the law and
University Policies. Specifically, the University does take judicial action in crimes of assault and violence,
grand larceny, rape and sexual assault, drugs, weapons and all off-campus alcohol violations. Be aware
that the University takes judicial action for all off-campus alcohol and drug violations which result in a
summons or arrest by the Blacksburg Police. Additionally, if a student is found guilty in the judicial
system for a major alcohol offense resulting in deferred suspension or higher, the University does notify
the parents of that student if that student is under age 21.

Off-Campus Housing Center
        The University, through the Department of University Unions and Student Activities, operates an Off-
Campus Housing Center in 121 Squires Student Center. You may visit their website at
for a listing of rentals, subleases, roommates, and other off-campus information. They also provide maps, a
community bulletin board, brochures, roommate survival guide, rental guides and other resources to aid you in
your off-campus housing search. The office also holds two housing fairs a year which bring in rental
companies from around the New River Valley area. The fairs are held in October and February. If you have
off-campus housing questions, please feel free to call 231-3466.

Parking Regulations
        To avoid being towed, watch where you park. The Town Code prohibits parking for more than 24
hours in the same location, on a public street. Parked vehicles that are trespassing on private property may
be towed. Parking on grass or sidewalks or in permit parking areas or alleys are subject to towing. Abandoned
vehicles are immediately removed and the identified owner will be billed. Please be sure that you comply with
all parking regulations in the area or apartment complex where you reside. Note that specific parking permits
are required for certain areas of the town and in certain apartment complex areas.

        As noted, please consult the sections above on “Neighbors” and “Noise”. Also, be aware that outdoor
parties of more than 500 people require a permit with provisions made for adequate parking, bathroom facilities,
trash service, property owner approval, and amplified sound. Registration is required for any outdoor amplified
sound between 10:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Neighborhood block parties requiring street closure require advance
approval, in writing, from the Town Manager.

Pets (see “Animals”)

Posting Notices
        Posters, notices, and advertisements may not be attached to utility poles, trees, and meters (Town Code
16-29). Before you post anything, be sure that you have checked to make sure that this is an appropriate and
legal location in which to do so.
Property Maintenance
        Property maintenance is a significant community concern. Please do not place indoor furniture on
porches or in yards. Grass, trees, and/or shrubbery should be maintained as needed to keep within the
attractiveness of the neighborhood. All signs must be removed after yard sales or other events and are not
allowed on public property such trees, fences, street, utility, or traffic control posts or on private property
without the owner’s permission. Please establish with your landlord or realtor who is responsible for
maintaining the landscape on the property. Further information is available in Chapter 14 of the Town Code or
by calling 961-1126.

Public Urination
       It is illegal to urinate in public within the Town of Blacksburg (Town Code 14-105). Violators of the
code are subject to arrest.

Rental Permit
       A new law took effect on July 1, 1999 requiring homeowners who rent rooms and apartments on their
property in residential neighborhoods to register their property with the Town of Blacksburg. If you are renting
from such a person, be sure that a rental permit has been issued for the property. You may check on the status
of such a specific permit by calling 961-1126.

Rescue Squad
        The Blacksburg Rescue Squad, located on Progress Street, is available to respond to emergency calls by
dialing 911.

        Although many students may have learned to live compatibly with a roommate while living on campus
in residence halls, living off-campus with a roommate can present some additional challenges. We encourage
you to communicate openly with your roommate and to develop an understanding of what is and is not
permitted in your apartment or house, how financial responsibilities will be handled, etc. The Hokie Handbook
contains an excellent section on how to live compatibly with a roommate and the Off Campus Housing Center
(121 Squires Student Center) offers free “Roommate Survival Guides.”

       Sidewalks should be kept free from weeds and debris. Public sidewalks must be cleared of snow within
24 hours of inclement weather. Please establish with your landlord or realtor who is responsible for clearing
sidewalks on your property.

Telephone Service
       Arrangements for new telephone service in an apartment or home may be made by calling Bell Atlantic
at 954-6222.

        Public transportation within the Town of Blacksburg is provided by the Blacksburg Transit System.
There are also taxis available through private companies listed in the yellow pages. Transportation to
Christiansburg and the Market Place and New River Valley Malls is available through the Two Town Trolley,
run as a part of the Blacksburg Transit system. Transportation to and from the Roanoke Airport is available
through the Blacksburg Limousine Service (951-3973).

         Trash or debris should be placed either in dumpsters provided in apartment complexes or curbside in
either of the refuse/recycling containers or in accordance with the guidelines for special collection programs
(i.e., brush, spring/fall clean-up, leaf or Christmas tree collection are offered annually). A special pick-up is
available for excess trash and debris when moving in or out of a new home by calling 961-1141. Please
establish with your landlord or realtor when the trash pickup day is for your area of town.

                                       RESOURCE INFORMATION


        Main Switchboard: 231-6000
              Web Site:

        Off-Campus Housing Center: 231-3466 (121 Squires)
              Web Site:

        Student Legal Services: 231-4720 (143 Squires)
               Web Site:

        Residential and Dining Programs: 231-6204 (109 E. Eggleston)
               Web Site:


        Main Switchboard: 961-1100
              Web Site:

        Blacksburg Transit: 961-1185 (2800 Commerce Street)
               Web Site:

        Fire Department: 911 (Emergency)
                         961-1189 (Non-Emergency – 200 Progress Street)
               Web Site:

        Planning & Engineering Department: 961-1126 (300 South Main Street)
               Web Site:

        Police Department: 911 (Emergency)
                           961-1150 (Non-Emergency – 200 West Clay Street)
               Web Site:
Rescue Squad: 911 (Emergency)
              961-1189 (Non-Emergency – 200 Progress Street)
       Web Site:

Town Parks and Recreation: 961-1135 (615 Patrick Henry Drive)
      Web Site:

Town Services:

Billing and Collection Schedules for: Water/Sewer/Refuse/Recycling         961-1119
        Web Site:

Special curbside collections of: bulky debris, yard waste, leaves, brush   961-1142
       Web Site:

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