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City council votes against Section O

Members of city council debated for over an hour last night on the terms of the controversial Section O before unanimously voting against the legislation and postponing it for further discussion.

During the meeting, council members agreed to support an ad-hoc committee that would be created by Mayor John Quinn and made up of two or three council members, residents representing different neighborhoods, the Bowling Green Health Department and the city administration.

Members of the committee would be charged with addressing problems brought up by residents of Bowling Green concerning Section O, which originally laid down recommendations for a licensing and inspection procedure for rental properties in the city.

‘This problem did not occur overnight, and it probably won’t go away overnight,’ Council-at-Large Terry Dunn said. ‘Let’s work to get this fixed as soon as possible.’

Lifetime resident Larry Newman, 65, said his biggest concern over the issue was whether or not city council members would react quickly enough to the legislation to make a difference.

He proposed three solutions to the legislation, saying that the council could turn the town over to local landlords, decide on a licensing and regulatory system on rental properties or disband the zoning and planning commission.

‘To sit on your hands and do nothing would make you an idiot,’ Newman said. ‘We’ve got a problem and we need to fix it.’

But for Kim Layden, 38, Section O will provide the Health Department with a new and more effective plan when it comes to enforcing health regulations, such as trash pick-up and litter violations.

Because many residents don’t follow through with health codes when they have been asked to fix them, Layden suggested that under Section O, rental properties could be denied to people who do not fix and follow health regulations.

‘I feel like this has been so blown out of proportion that people have forgotten this is only a recommendation for a licensing and inspection procedure,’ Layden said.

And along with recommending an ad-hoc committee be created in order to deal with Section O, council members also called for a new look at the language of the legislation, with the ultimate goal being a new and simplified document.

Council-at-Large Robert McOmber said the language within Section O is currently too narrow, and that in order for the legislation to work, common ground and objectives must be found in order to move forward.

‘Before implementing a new system, let’s see if we can adjust the old system to make it more acceptable,’ McOmber said. ‘As I look out there [at the audience], I say to myself, it’s not altogether a bad thing that people care so much, although everyone may not get what they want.’

McOmber also suggested the new language focus more directly on the health, safety and appearance of properties in Bowling Green, with the legislation centered on all houses and not just rental properties.

And though the council left their meeting hoping to have the additions to Section O hammered out within the next several months, President Megan Newlove assured citizens in the audience that in the meantime the section would not be forgotten.

‘I think all of us up here understand there are problems and issues with Section O,’ Newlove said. ‘We don’t want to sweep them under the rug.’

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