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Voting delayed on ordinance

Karen Langley | Friday, August 24, 2007

The South Bend Common Council voted Aug. 20 to postpone the public hearing on the proposed ordinance that would require students living off campus to register large parties 10 days in advance.

The ordinance would require residents of “boarding houses” – residences with two or more unrelated occupants – to apply for a permit from the city 10 days prior to any gatherings that host more than 25 guests and serve alcohol.

The public hearing will be held Aug. 27. Council members said this would allow time for any changes needed to enforce the bill and defend against any legal challenges – two concerns raised at the Community Relations Committee meeting held earlier Monday night.

Immediately before the Council meeting, Mayor Steven Luecke advised the Community Relations Committee to postpone the hearing for 30 days.

“Through good dialogue, [the bill] will have a chance to do what we want it to do,” he said.

Luecke asked the Council to refine the bill so that it is “understandable, enforceable and effective.”

Both Council member Al “Buddy” Kirsits, a sponsor of the bill, and Council attorney Kathleen Cekanski-Farrand said after the meeting that seven days would be enough time to make any changes necessary for the bill to be passed.

Kirsits said before the Council meeting that the bill should be passed regardless of changes that might be needed later.

“It may not be perfect, but it addresses the issue,” he said. “If we need to tweak it down the line, we do it then. We need to tell people of the behavior we expect of them in our community.”

Later, he said he was “extremely disappointed” about the postponement.

Raucous student parties at the end of the school year contributed to the immediate need for the ordinance, he said.

“We wouldn’t have to do this, but when students left, our neighborhoods were ripped apart,” he said.

While several dozen students and residents attended the meeting, no one was allowed to speak.

District 4 Council member Ann Puzzello said the decision to postpone for seven days rather than the mayor’s recommended 30 was due to a desire to quickly pass the ordinance, which includes legislation to regulate lawn parking.

“This is football season,” she said. “We’re anxious to do it as soon as possible.”