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Published: Friday, 8/15/2008

Student-led effort to change Bowling Green housing rules hits roadblock

BOWLING GREEN - An attempt to change the city's long-standing three-people-to-a-house limit has been derailed by a lack of valid signatures.

Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton said yesterday that his office verified 793 valid signatures gathered by valid circulators. That was 12 signatures shy of the 805 needed to get the initiative on the November ballot.

A group led by the Undergraduate Student Government at Bowling Green State University had gathered 1,572 signatures in support of the initiative, which sought to amend the city ordinance to allow one person to occupy each bedroom of a single-family home "provided the total number of unrelated persons in any home is a maximum of four persons."

John Waynick, USG president, was upset with the board of elections' determination.

"I understand the legal procedures in place, but it's still disheartening for a group of students trying to create a harmonious balance between the university and the community," Mr. Waynick said. "And being 12 [signatures] short, we entirely plan on appealing this as high as possible."

According to the elections board, 469 signatures were thrown out because they were invalid. Mr. Burton said in many cases, the signer was not registered to vote in Bowling Green or was not registered at the address on file.

"They got a lot of signatures from the first and second wards, which are heavily student, and students move a lot," Mr. Burton said.

Of the remaining signatures, 117 were invalid as were the circulators' petitions they signed. Another 193 valid signatures were thrown out because the circulators were deemed to be invalid.

Mr. Burton said in most cases the person circulating the petition had not filled out the "circulator statement" correctly or had used a business address rather than a home address.

Mr. Waynick said his group planned to challenge the signatures deemed invalid, and, short of that, would consider trying to get the measure on the ballot in November, 2009.

"I can't promise it at this point but I definitely will say this issue is not going away and if anything it's going to make students more angry," he said.

USG contended the three-person rule unfairly penalized students.

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