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Published: Tuesday, 10/5/2004

Bowling Green relents to residents on trick-treat controversy

BOWLING GREEN - With enough city residents feeling they'd been tricked rather than treated, City Council last night decided to return trick-or-treat hours from afternoon to after dark.

Trick-or-treat in Bowling Green will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 31. Council unanimously approved the change after several residents spoke out in favor of it.

"I'm here representing my four grandchildren who would like Halloween to be on Halloween," said Marilyn Brennan, adding that she'd never been to a council meeting before. "So you know how important this is."

Mayor John Quinn had been criticized for setting trick-or-treat for 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, to avoid conflicts with evening football games on Friday and Saturday.

He cited church-related conflicts for choosing a day other than Oct. 31, which falls on a Sunday this year.

Despite the mayor's reasoning, many residents complained not only about moving the tradition to daylight hours but also about the conflicts many children have with soccer games and other activities on Saturday afternoon.

Tina Robinette said her three children weren't happy with the idea of daytime trick-or-treating. She asked that council move it to Sunday night.

"We know it's a school night, and, yes, we know it's a religious night," she said. "If you're that much of a religious person you're probably not going to participate in Halloween anyway."

The heat on the city last night was more intense on another topic, though. At least 65 people packed city council chambers, many of them Bowling Green State University students upset with the city's decision to enforce a 29-year-old zoning regulation that says only three unrelated individuals may live in the same single-family house.

Mayor John Quinn addressed the topic first, explaining that the city has moved ahead with plans to enforce the multiple occupancy regulation this fall because of significant enrollment increases at BGSU combined with high rents during a tight economy.

"The city believes this law is not only appropriate to community values but [is] also constitutional and enforceable," he said.

He took BGSU President Sidney Ribeau to task for supporting some students who said the law is unfairly targeting college students. Mr. Ribeau made the comments last week at a meeting called by the Undergraduate Student Government.

"The remarks which he chose to make to that audience were inflammatory and promoted division among the parties to this debate," the mayor said. "I was, to put it mildly, disappointed and concerned that a person of his stature and influence would behave so unwisely and so ill-advisedly."

While Mayor Quinn told the crowd that misdemeanor charges against the 35 people who have so far been cited for violating the law would be dropped if the problem was corrected by Dec. 31, USG President Alex Wright said students should be given a year's notice that the law will be enforced.

"Don't do it in the middle of a lease cycle. Don't force people to move in the middle of the year," he said. "If this is something the city really wants to do, give us time to fix it."

Mr. Wright also asked council for a moratorium on issuing citations for violations until representatives of the city and university can work out a solution to the problem.



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