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Religious displays will be allowed on public land in Bethel. 

The Board of Selectmen adopted regulations last night calling for applications to be entered into a lottery if there are too many seeking the same parcel of land.  Selectman Rich Straiton voted in opposition, saying no displays should be allowed, concerned it would lead to a lawsuit or displays that some find offensive.  He believes the displays should go on private property. 

The issue came up after a resident applied to hang a banner, wishing a "happy holidays from your friendly atheist neighbors" on the same property at the same time as a creche.  The Religious Display Committee recommended that the creche and banner be grandfathered in and always allowed, with every other applicant put into a lottery.  But First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the town could not legally give special treatment to certain displays. 

Other regulations adopted last night are that a Bethel resident or organization can apply, the application period is October 1st to November 7th.  The holiday displays will be allowed on P-T Barnum Square between the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through January 7th.  Displays can only take up a third of the total square footage of the property.  Applicants must have insurance. 

The Selectmen noted that applications can be rejected for public safety concerns.

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