Aspen Heights residents say new rules go too far

Maggie Tolson (back to camera) discusses Aspen Heights' new security rules with Rachel Brackney, Ashlan Fiester and Lauren Garvey (l-r) Sunday afternoon. All four say the new rules go too far and won't solve the neighborhood's security problems.

Aspen Heights residents told KRCG 13 Sunday new rules handed down Saturday night will not solve the neighborhoodâ??s crime problems.

Rachel Brackney said the new rules punish the entire community of some 900 residents for the actions of a tiny handful of people. She said residents had no say in the rules and had no idea a rule change was coming.

Residents received an email Saturday evening informing them the neighborhood had been â??temporarily placed on lock-down.â?? KRCG obtained a copy of the email, which spelled out the following new rules:

  • Only Aspen Heights residents and their invited guests are allowed on the property

  • Security access codes at the gates have been disabled, meaning the only way residents can open the gates is using the clickers they were issued. Guests can no longer call from the front gate to ask residents to let them in.

  • Each resident is limited to four guests per day. When security is on duty, visitors must check in and provide the name and address of the person they are visiting

  • House parties are strictly forbidden. Violators face a $600 fine.

  • Columbia Police Department statistics show Aspen Heights has experienced six burglaries, an assault, a DUI, an alcohol violation and a drug violation since Sept. 1. Thatâ??s in addition to an armed robbery and a shots-fired incident early this month.

    Maggie Tolson said the fine exceeds the $575 rent she pays, not including utilities. She said Aspen Heights did not tell residents anything about crimes happening in the neighborhood. Tolson said Aspen Heights staff did tell them about a recent robbery there, but she did not know it was an armed robbery until she heard accounts of it on the news. She said she suspects Aspen Heightsâ?? reputation as an upscale student community has something to do with the spate of break-ins.

    â??If you can afford to live here, youâ??re obviously going to have nice things, and with the advertising, I think thatâ??s drawing in the crime," she said.

    Ashlan Fiester said a locked gate is not going to stop a determined criminal. She said if someone wanted to get into Aspen Heights badly enough, they could simply scale the perimeter fence. As for getting through the gate, Fiester said vehicles could easily follow close behind and get through the gate before it closes. Brackney said Aspen Heights has a security team that is supposed to check people in, but she has never seen them do this.

    Brackney, Fiester and Tolson said they already plan to move out when their leases end. They said they acknowledge that Aspen Heights is new but this does not excuse the many maintenance and security problems they and other residents have dealt with.

    Aspen Heights spokesman Stuart Watkins told KRCG 13 the complex changed the rules after consulting with parents and residents and said such rules are standard procedure in these situations. He said all of the break-ins Aspen Heights has been made aware of resulted from residents leaving their doors unlocked. Watkins said residents could have more than four guests at a time as long as they clear it with apartment management first.