by Alan McArthur
Should smoking be banned in Parkville? The pros and cons of the possibility were discussed during a work session held by the Parkville Board of Aldermen on Tuesday night.
The aldermen held conversation among themselves on the sample ordinance for a smoking ban at the work session. The sample ordinance would ban smoking in all restaurants and bars and all places of employment with no exceptions. The ordinance would also ban smoking within 10 feet of doors, windows, or ventilation systems for buildings where smoking is banned.
After the closing of the Power Plant restaurant and brewery on Main Street, Parkville is now down to three restaurants and one club that allows smoking in the city, according to Gia McFarlane, alderman. The three restaurants are Nick and Jake's, Rancho Grande, and Breadeaux Pizza. The club is the American Legion Hall in downtown Parkville.
Sean Ackerson, assistant city administrator, told the board that the sample ordinance was created based on similar ordinances in other cities.
Mayor Gerry Richardson asked what would happen if a part of the ordinance were challenged.
“There's nothing in the ordinance that can be challenged,” said McFarlane.
“There's nothing that has not already been adopted by someone else in Missouri,” said Ackerson.
Marc Sportsman asked whether the ordinance would affect the outdoor festivals held in the city.
McFarlane responded that the ordinance would not affect the festivals, and that it was mostly directed at the baseball and soccer fields in the city, as outdoor facilities.
One issue for Jeffrey Bay, alderman, was whether the business owner would be responsible for purchasing a sign to say that smoking is banned in the restaurant.
“I don't like another cost on businesses,” said Bay. “Does it have to be in the ordinance?”
“All cities have signs required, but I'm not sure who paid for them,” said McFarlane.
“We don't have all that many restaurants that allow smoking,” said Richardson. “It might be reasonable for the city to print something and make it available.”
The discussion then moved to possibly having exclusions in the ordinance for some businesses.
“The committee discussed this and if we have a public safety ordinance, we can't exclude businesses,” said McFarlane. “Many businesses would consider it unfair if we allow some places to have smoking.”
“I have some concerns about changing the rules in the middle of the game,” said Richardson.
McFarlane added that two of the three potentially affected restaurants in Parkville have restaurants in other cities with smoking bans and they are still open.
“I think this is a very difficult decision to consider,” said Deborah Butcher, alderman. “If someone starts a business and thinks they know the rules and then to have government come along and change them . . . There are so many places that people don't have to endure smoking if they don't want to. If it affects you, you don't have to go there.”
“I would like to see some way to incorporate exceptions,” said Richardson, referencing the Legion Hall.
“When other ordinances have exceptions and are challenged, are they holding up?” asked Jim Brooks, alderman.
“The private clubs are getting turned over,” said McFarlane.
Some other cities have made exemptions for private clubs to allow smoking in the establishment.
“I know of one instance where the restaurant will close if this is passed,” said Marvin Ferguson. “People who come in and drink also smoke.”
“(The restaurant owner) also spoke of perhaps getting more customers,” said McFarlane. “I wish I had a crystal ball and could tell you what would happen.”
The board scheduled a public hearing to discuss the proposed ordinance for Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m.
The board also changed the city's municipal code to allow for the sale of motorized scooters in the city. The code now allows people to ride scooters with engines larger than 50 cubic centimeters on city streets.
The code also allows for the sale of scooters in non-residential areas of the city.
The city will also have an open house on Saturday, Nov. 22 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for residents to discuss the city's Master Plan. The public input from the meeting will then be used to further direct the development of the Master Plan.