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Zoning code petition gets rejected

After spending nearly a month attempting to alter the zoning code regarding occupancy limits in single family zoning districts, a group of students and city residents led by Undergraduate Student Government met a major roadblock when they discovered they were 12 signatures short of inclusion on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The petition, which was spearheaded by USG President John Waynick; City, State and National Liaison Jeremy Lehman; and Student Welfare Committee Chair Jon Dinan, planned to expand the long-standing three-people-to-a-house limit to include four non-related roommates.

In order for the petition to be included on the upcoming Nov. 4 ballot, the Wood County Board of Elections would have had to deem 805 of the petition’s signatures valid.

Although USG members, University students and community members collected and originally submitted 1,572 signatures to the Wood County Board of Elections, only 793 of those signatures were considered valid – leaving them 12 shy of their goal.

‘We collected almost twice the amount needed, and we still fell short,’ Waynick said. ‘We made the issue as aware as possible and to fall 12 short on a highly debatable issue is very disheartening.’

According to the Board of Elections Director Terry Burton, 469 signatures were thrown out because they were deemed invalid.

One of the main reasons behind the invalid signatures was due to the registration of the signer, Burton said. According to him, a majority of the signatures thrown out were signed by citizens who were not registered to vote or who were not registered at the address listed on the petition.

‘These were two of the main [errors] we found,’ Burton said. ‘I’d say about 80 percent to 85 percent of the signatures were discounted on that basis.’

The Board of Elections dismissed 193 signatures due to addressing reasons.

‘[The circulators] listed addresses they don’t reside at or don’t live at,’ Burton said. ‘Most of the addresses put down were business, and not home addresses, which made them invalid.’

Another 117 signatures, as well as circulator petitions were also deemed invalid.

And though USG organizers did not expect any holdup after submitting their petition, City, State and National Liaison Jeremy Lehman said he won’t let this temporary delay stop progress already made.

‘A lot of people were really excited that we were doing something about this, and we did everything we could do to make a change,’ Lehman said. ‘We can’t let any numbers stop us.’

In an effort to clear up the issue as soon as possible, Waynick said he will pursue an appeal date and is currently looking for legal representation.

‘If we can’t challenge 12 signatures this year, we will be back next year,’ Waynick said. ‘This isn’t something that’s going to go away.’

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