More than 100 people gathered Saturday to protest the conversion of area homes into rooming houses for Stony Brook University students -- and university and town officials say they're listening.
The concerned residents say absentee landlords are converting homes into crowded, low-rent college housing in violation of town codes.
"There is little to no concern for the neighborhood," said Bruce Sander, 58, who founded Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners to deal with the issue. "They pave over the front lawns for parking. The houses are unkempt."
Protesters held signs reading "Preserve Our Neighborhood & Property Values from College Boarding Houses" as they marched along Hastings Drive near Hilton Court.
Sander said he's been meeting with Town of Brookhaven officials to address the complaints.
"We're amazed at how many homes this is happening in," he said, estimating that dozens of homes have been converted.
Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine said he's confident that tougher code regulations aimed at curbing violations, including bigger fines and prohibitions against paving over front lawns, would be approved by early April.
"We're going to be vigorously going after these people," he said yesterday.
Stony Brook spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow said the university has begun requiring landlords to produce a valid town rental permit before listing available housing on the school's off-campus-housing website. The university is also cross-referencing its off-campus-housing lists with the town's list of legal rental units, she said.