The city council is seeking public comment on the proposal before meeting in a work session March 5th to decide what, if any, specific language should be pursued in a clean-air ordinance. The current draft ordinance is available here.
City Manager Bruce Woody says the draft ordinance was deliberately crafted as “middle of the road.” He says city staff recognizes that the issue involves both a public health issue and a property rights issue. He says the public meetings were scheduled at different times of the day to allow everyone a chance to weigh in.
Mayor Bill Falkner says he hasn’t made up his mind yet, but said he always has a problem with government telling businesses what to do.
Bob Meeks came as a representative of a group called the “United Freedom Coalition.” Meeks says such an ordinance would actually handicapping some businesses.
“These people have their business, their bars, their restaurants, their grills, they want to make their choice,” Meeks said in an interview. “They pay the taxes. It’s only fair. It’s like they’re handicapped. How can you handicap someone with a statute from the city, when they’re spending thousands of dollars trying to keep alive, and trying to keep their business going.”
Dwayne Leer operates “Uncle D’s Sports Bar and Grill” in St Joseph. Leer says he’s glad the city is taking the time to solicit public input.
“I like what they’re doing,” Leer says. “They’re really spending a lot of time and effort trying to please a lot of people. I probably don’t even understand how much work it is.”
“But, what I think is, they need to be fair across the board. Either grandfather people in that are the way they are, and just go non-smoking, or, make it all fair across the board and no smoking, anywhere, because I’m actually going to lose business from this.
Leer says he’s hearing a lot from regulars at his bar who say they won’t be back if the ordinance passes as it stands right now.
“They’re going to go to smaller bars that they can smoke in. They’re telling me that. As soon as they pass this ordinance, they’re gone, and I don’t blame them, they want to go to a place and smoke. It’s mainly my regulars. I’ve got people who have been coming there for eight years, that are not going to come any more because of the smoking situation.”
Future meetings are schedule at City Hall at the following dates and times:
Thursday, January 31 7pm
Thursday, February 7 3pm
Monday, February 11 7pm
Friday, February 15 9am
Wednesday, February 20 3pm
Officials will also seek public input on February 25 at 7 pm a public meeting in conjunction with a previously scheduled City Talk meeting.