City says party
By Lisa Halverstadt
Front lawns boasting beer cans, uncut grass and rat-infested couches must now be cleaned up within five days of a city notice.
That's the word from Bowling Green City Council, which ruled at its meeting last night to shorten the time between notification and action.
Previously, residents and landlords had 15 days to bag the litter and cut the grass after receiving a letter from the city.
Megan Newlove, president of council, said she believes the new ordinance will ensure unsightly yards are dealt with in a timely manner.
"If there are problems getting people to clean up, this would solve the problem,'' she said.
And while city police frequently deal with littered yards after outdoor parties, the new ordinance is meant to resolve issues that prove more troubling.
Bowling Green Police Chief Gary Spencer said party situations are usually easy for officers to handle.
"Most of the people are pretty compliant with us,'' he said. "We ask them to clean it up and they do.''
Residents are most often advised to clean up within an hour or face a civil infraction, Spencer said.
But the ordinance is meant to deal with more stubborn litterers and those aren't necessarily students.
John Zanfardino, head of the council's community improvement committee, said the two civil infractions given for litter involved a 35-year-old man renting a home and owners of a city factory.
"I think when you rent, you tend to not take as good of care of things but that's not always true,'' he said.
Officials in other college towns are dealing with litter in different ways.
Sgt. Jim Squance of the Oxford Police Department, which houses Miami University, said if an officer drives by and sees litter, he or she will tell the resident to clean up the mess within an hour.
"If the people don't clean up their litter, the party's over,'' he said. "We come by and cite them right away.''
And unlike Bowling Green police, the OPD cannot issue civil citations so litterers face criminal misdemeanor charges.
But Lt. Michelle Lee of the Kent City Police said the Kent Health Department is responsible for dealing with litter violations.
Health officials process any complaints and issue warnings and fines that don't appear on an individual's criminal record, she said.
Gordy Heminger, who represents Bowling Green's first ward on council, said he doesn't think the city's new rule will affect most students and residents but will help deal with problems that have been harder to resolve in the past.
"Most of the time [litter] is taken care of very, very quickly,'' he said. "This will only impact the worst of citizens.''
© Lisa Halverstadt