COLUMBIA — Residents of Columbia Regency mobile home park aren't the only people Aspen Heights is offering $500 for signatures on petitions. Sororities and fraternities are possible recipients of the company's money, too.
The City Council is scheduled to vote on rezoning the land of Columbia Regency mobile home park Monday night. If the rezoning is passed, Aspen Heights plans to buy the land and develop it into student apartment complexes similar to the ones it runs in college towns throughout the country.
On Tuesday, Charlie Vatterott, executive vice president of development for Aspen Heights, offered $500 to each resident of the park who would sign a paper saying they support the deal offered to them by the company if the rezoning passes.
Aspen Heights is also holding a contest among sororities and fraternities at MU. The winner will receive $500 for a social or philanthropy effort.
The rules? Sorority or fraternity members must like Aspen Heights Columbia on Facebook, like the status about the member's sorority or fraternity and sign an online petition saying "Aspen Heights would be a great addition for University of Missouri students".
The chapter with the most likes and signatures will win the money. The petition is linked to the Aspen Heights' Facebook page.
The petition assures students that it is only a petition and does not indicate an intent to live at Aspen Heights. It says Aspen Heights would like to present the petition to the City Council on Nov. 14, though the Facebook page extended the contest deadline until 10 a.m. Thursday.
Presidents of sorority and fraternity chapters were sent emails informing them of the contest and the rules from Mary Katherine Perry, sales and marketing manager of Aspen Heights San Antonio. Perry said the contest was to get more people to like the Facebook page.
The MU chapter of Grass Roots Organizing has been gathering signatures on campus for a petition against the rezoning. Members Jack Buthod, Curtis Edwards and Andrew Bisto said they do not want Columbia Regency residents to be forced from their homes, out-of-state companies such as Regency of Missouri (based in Colorado) and Aspen Heights (based in Texas) to dictate Columbia policy or more expensive student housing in Columbia that is difficult for students to afford.
They said Wednesday that they had 751 signatures and are still collecting them.
At 7:20 p.m. Wednesday, Aspen Heights Columbia had 591 likes on Facebook. The sorority in the lead was Delta Delta Delta with 194 likes. None of the fraternities had any likes at all. Mason Shank, who spoke on behalf of Aspen Heights at a sorority dinner, has commented on various Facebook posts encouraging the sororities and reminding people that they must sign the petition for their entry to count.
Megan Stroup, president of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, said that while she has heard members of her sorority talking about liking the status, she has not heard them talking about the petition. She said she had seen the contest posted on Facebook*, but it has not been largely discussed by the sorority. At 7:20 p.m. Wednesday Alpha Delta Pi was in second place with 56 likes.