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West Lafayette City Council President asks what existing residents get out of Purdue University’s expansion and growth

Council President Peter Bunder discusses the impact of student housing in West Lafayette (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

West Lafayette City Council President Peter Bunder asked what benefit existing residents see from Purdue University’s expansion and growth at the council’s Tuesday night meeting.

The question came while the council considered two zoning ordinances allowing for additional apartment complexes within the city aimed at students. Record enrollment left the university over a thousand beds short last year, and struggling to figure out where to house people.

Bunder asked the council to consider when Purdue’s growth would stop - and what impact it would have on the permanent residents of the city.

“What is the community becoming? More and more nomadic with fewer and fewer permanent residents,” he said. “The end. Who is going to live here and for how long?”

Bunder said that he wants to know how much larger the university plans to get.

“I would like to see a conversation with Purdue about enrollment,” he said. “Somebody please tell me what the high number will be.”

Other council members asked developers how affordable the apartments would be, and whether a resident making $40,000 a year could live there.

But Ryan Munden, an attorney for one of the developers petitioning the council for the change, said if the university is struggling to find beds - it makes sense to increase housing options.

“We’re not here for Purdue,” he said. “This is private industry, and if you’re going to wait on a public university to solve some of these problems, you’re going to be waiting a long time. That’s the benefit of private industries.”

Munden added that stopping the construction of apartment complexes won’t bring down city rent prices.

“The solution to high rents, as suggested by one of the council members that we kill demand, seems like a silly solution,” he said. “People want to be here – we should welcome them with open arms rather than telling them to go away.”

Both ordinances passed on 8-1 votes.