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Smoking debate still
burning at Parkville

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

Smoking was the topic of discussion again Tuesday in Parkville.

The Parkville Board of Aldermen discussed what they thought should or should not be included in a possible smoking ban for the city.

Gerry Richardson, mayor, led the discussion and asked the aldermen for their input on three issues facing the smoking ban. The issues were how to deal with membership establishments, how to deal with restaurants and whether to include the Missouri smoking exemptions.

On Tuesday there was no revised ordinance for the board to discuss. Richardson said he and city staff will revise the ordinance and have it available for discussion at the next meeting on Feb. 3. The board may then vote on the ordinance at the following meeting, allowing the public time to view the ordinance.

The two membership establishments in Parkville allowing smoking are the American Legion Hall and a smoking room at The National Golf Club.

“To get legislation passed, we will all need to be somewhat open minded,” said Marc Sportsman, alderman. “I support excluding private membership clubs.”

“I would prefer an exemption for private clubs, but I can go along with the pared down restrictions on clubs,” said Jeff Bay, alderman.

“If we have an exemption for the two organizations, it is important we don't allow people under 18-years-old in the atmosphere,” said David McCoy, alderman.

“I believe membership clubs should be grandfathered in,” said Jim Brooks, alderman.

“I believe we should exempt the clubs,” said Deborah Butcher, alderman. “I would like to let workers sign a waiver to work in the smoking area. The Legion can't get by with only volunteers.”

Marvin Ferguson, alderman, said he was for grandfathering the two private clubs.

Nan McManus, alderman, said she supports exempting the clubs, but was not sure on grandfathering.

The next issue was how to deal with restaurants that allow smoking in Parkville. The three restaurants in Parkville allowing smoking are Café Cedar, Nick and Jake's and Rancho Grande.

Butcher said she would like to have the restaurants grandfathered for a time of about three years before being required to be non-smoking. The time would allow the restaurants to decide whether they want to stay in the city or leave.

“I agree with what Deborah said,” said Brooks. “All we are doing is postponing it. In all fairness, it is the best thing to do with the economy we should go easy on them.”

“I think a three year sunset is ridiculous,” said Sportsman. “If it is good three years from now, it is good now.”

Sportsman said he could support an exemption with a sunset when a restaurant has to renew its lease.

“The people in this city want a smoking ban,” said Sportsman. “They want a non-smoking ordinance and because we are a fourth-class city we are handed this task. I don't support a three year grandfathering at all. Maybe three months, six months, or the end of the lease, but three years is ridiculous.”

The last point of discussion was whether to leave the state's exemptions in the smoking ordinance. The aldermen agreed to leave the exemptions to reduce the chances that the city may be sued.

“I recommend leaving them in,” said Richardson. “I don't want to be challenged on this. I think the statutes are goofy, they are political sausage. They have almost nothing to do with public health or logic.”

The other aldermen agreed the exemptions should be left in a proposed ordinance.

The board also discussed whether to have another public hearing to gather public comment.

“We have been going at this for over four years. We have been criticized for being too quick and for taking too much time,” said Sportsman. “What's another 30 minutes of citizen input? Four years is a decent amount of time to spend, I think it is time to move forward.”

In other business during the meeting, the board also tabled the second reading of an ordinance to establish the Parkville Market Place Tax Increment Financing Plan. The ordinance was first read in February of 2008 and was delayed to allow the developer, Tuf-Flight Industries, to work with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) regarding easements along Highway 45.

According to Sean Ackerson, assistant city administrator, the developer has been delayed because of delays through MoDOT so the ordinance should not be approved because there are no final site plans.

The TIF would be active for 20 years on the site on the west side of the intersection of Bell Road and Highway 45.

The board voted to table the issue for up to 12 months. The ordinance may be brought back before the board within the 12 month period.

The board also voted to hire William Tomlin as a police officer in the city. Tomlin is scheduled to begin employment on Wednesday, Feb. 18.


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