Council receives input on no-smoking ordinance

Citizens sign in to address the Farmington City Council before the start of the public hearing on Thursday. The council is considering placing a smoking ban ordinance on the November ballot and held the first of two public hearings to gain input. The next is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on June 11. 

Shawnna Robinson, Daily Journal

A handful of local business owners were present at the public hearing Thursday evening to express their concern over the impact a ban on public smoking could have on their businesses.

Tim Wiles of Farmington, owner of Cuzzin’s Sports Bar and Grill, said his main concern was the council taking the issue “before a vote of the people.”

“We all have our rights as citizens to do as we please, go where we want,” Wiles said. “If we don’t like smoking, we don’t have to go (to an establishment with smoking). That is a choice in the matter of it.”

His concern is that passage of an ordinance could possible mean a loss of business.

“That’s how I feed and clothe my children,” he said. “That’s my main concern.”

Speaking in favor of the ordinance was Terry Baker with the American Lung Association.

“By adopting a comprehensive smoke-free policy for all public places and work places, you have an opportunity to enact one of the most important and cost-effective policies that can improve public health,” she said.

Farmington City Administrator Greg Beavers said most of the public input session was spent hearing from those business owners which could be affected.

“Those people that own businesses are likely to be the most passionate (against the ban), and the most passionate for (the ban) are healthcare professionals and public health advocates,” he said. “The majority tonight were those directly impacted by it.”

Beavers said the path taken by council with the ordinance is “unique” in the fact the city council “took the time to get a statutory change” to allow the issue to go before a vote of the citizens.

“It’s a long process. Council was very thoughtful and very interested in folks opinions and overall concerns in the community,” he said.

The next public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on June 11.

“What we’re doing on these public hearings is to get input to make revisions to the ordinance,” he said, stressing those who have concerns should review the ordinance. A copy of the proposed ordinance is found at www.farmington-mo.gov or can be obtained at the city clerk’s office at 110 W. Columbia St.

Written comments can be submitted to the City of Farmington, attention of the mayor and city council, 110 W. Columbia St. or emailed to smokingban@farmington-mo.gov.

The ordinance would prohibit the use of “lighted or heated cigarettes, cigars, pipes or other devices or materials intended for the purpose of using tobacco or other smoke-producing products, or electronic cigarettes, within an enclosed place of employment” in the city of Farmington.

Places the ban would be enacted include buildings owned and operated by the city, indoor places of entertainment or recreation and restaurants – including lounge and bar areas, except outdoor dining areas which are not “enclosed areas” as defined in the ordinance.

Smoking would also be prohibited within 25 feet of the entry of a government building and within 15 feet of the entry of a public building.

Among the exceptions in the ordinance are private residences not serving as enclosed places of employment or public places, private clubs, permanently designated smoking rooms (not to exceed 20 percent), private and semi-private rooms in nursing homes and long-term care facilities (the residents of which are all smokers and have requested to be placed in a smoking room), cigar bars and similar settings.

Beavers expects the council to take action on the ordinance during the month of July.

Also during the council meeting, Farmington Fire Chief Todd Mecey presented the 2014 statistics report for the department.

The department responded to 2,007 total incidents last year – a drop of 77 from the year 2013. The 5-year average for incidents is 1,998.

More than 50 percent of the calls in 2014 were for EMS, coming in at 52 percent. Good intent/service calls were at 12 percent, followed by false alarms at 11 percent, vehicle accidents and mutual aid both at 6 percent, structure fire at 5 percent, other hazards at 4 percent and other fire at 3 percent.

The May 21 edition of the Farmington Press will have a complete breakdown of the fire chief's report. On that date the report will also be available at www.dailyjournalonline.com/farmington-press/.

In regular business, the council approved a second reading for the second amendment to the fiscal year 2015 operating budget.

Council also approved the declaration of surplus inventory during the administrative services report.

In other business, the council discussed an amendment to an ordinance regarding the stocking of trout in Giessing Lake in Engler Park. The city and Missouri Department of Conservation will split the cost to stock the lake for a winter trout fishery. The council also approved a contract with Brockmiller Construction in the amount of $30,566 to construct sidewalks and concrete headwalls for the fishing dock at Giessing Lake.

The council will next meet in regular session at 6:30 p.m. on Monday. The meeting was moved up due to the Memorial Day holiday.

Beavers said an item on Monday’s agenda includes an item concerning the property owned by the Desco Group, which includes the Schnucks location.

According to Beavers, Desco has sold the property to another St. Louis development company but will continue to manage the property. A building permit has been issued for Cato Fashions, a women’s clothing store, to open in one of the storefronts next to the grocer.

“There is no change to the retailer or the redevelopment agreement,” he said, saying the action will transfer covenants in the CID to the new property owner.

Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or srobinson@farmingtonpressonline.com

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