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City Beat: Tobacco 21 Act passes unanimously

The purchase age for tobacco products rise to 21 from 18

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Springfield City Council on July 15 voted unanimously to raise the age to purchase tobacco in the city to 21 years old from 18.

With the passage of the “Tobacco 21 Act,” Springfield joins hundreds of communities nationwide that have adopted tobacco reform, including 40% of Missouri municipalities, according to the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation.

“Almost 500 communities have passed Tobacco 21 in 12 states,” Councilman Craig Hosmer said before the vote.

Neighboring state Illinois passed a statewide Tobacco 21 Act that went into effect July 1, according to CounterTobacco.org.

Springfield’s ordinance also includes alternative nicotine and vapor products among those that now are no longer available to teenagers.

“To allow children to start smoking at 12, 13, even between 18 to 21, I think is a huge public health issue,” Hosmer said. “I think this is one of the most important things I’ve done on council in five years.”

Both Hosmer and Councilman Matthew Simpson said they appreciated the testimony last month from the local medical community, when doctors donned their lab coats in council chambers.

“This was a communitywide effort based around evidenced-based policy,” Simpson said.

Immediately following the passage of Tobacco 21, council approved a companion bill that eliminates a fine of up to $1,000 for minors who purchase or possess tobacco products. According to city documents, withdrawing the fine is designed to “remove the risk of placing undue burden on youth while still allowing law enforcement individuals to confiscate tobacco products from individuals under the age.”

Rezoning bills
Council unanimously passed three rezoning bills.

The first was to make 8.4 acres at 3145 S. Campbell Ave. a highway commercial district, where U-Haul intends to move into the current location of Napleton Autowerks/Missouri Inc.

U-Haul officials plan to retrofit the building after the Napleton car dealership moves to a new, $9 million campus under development at the U.S. Highway 65 and Division Street exit, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

Per city documents, rezoning applicant South Campbell Investments LLC also is working to sell a portion of the existing Napleton lot for commercial use to the south of the property, which was subdivided into two lots.

Kenneth Taylor, the manager for U-Haul at 3150 S. Campbell Ave., did not respond to interview requests. The property was zoned as a planned development.

Additionally, 6 acres in the 4900 block of South Campbell Avenue were rezoned to an office district from a medium-density multifamily residential district. The move makes way for applicant Dr. Daniel Pinheiro to open an ear, nose and throat medical office on land that’s part of the $500 million, 100-acre planned development The Ridge. Pinheiro currently practices at a Mercy clinic on East Seminole Street.

In separate action at City Hall, the Springfield Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority voted earlier this month against a blight designation for the development land. A tax increment financing qualifications report compiled by St. Louis-based PGAV Planners LLC cited inadequate street layout, unsanitary or unsafe conditions, and site deterioration from staff field investigations. 

Council approved a request by the William C. Beall Jr. Trust to rezone 4 acres at 2915 S. National Ave. to a planned development from a single-family residential district. An A-1 Self Storage facility, office and manager’s apartment currently exists on the property north of Andy B’s bowling center, according to city documents.

Stephanie Ireland of Ireland Architects Inc., who represented the owner at the meeting, said the move combines two existing planned developments, plus a strip of property to the north, into one planned development.

Ireland said A-1 storage officials plan to price out contracting work for possible development to look at the return on investment before making any decisions.

According to city staff, the property is suitable for general retail, highway commercial, office and multifamily developments.

The strip of property is planned as a bufferyard between the storage facility and the neighborhood to the north. Ireland said her firm was hired to work on the rezoning process.

Budget adjustments
Springfield Finance Director David Holtmann addressed budget adjustments in three first-reading bills that were read together, covering the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, special revenue and capital project funds, and the general fund.

Holtmann told council the adjustments are normal for the end of a fiscal year and aren’t necessarily known at the beginning of the budget process, giving examples of fire escrow payments, rental revenue from community rooms, insurance reimbursements for damaged city property and retirement payouts.

The Park Board’s operating budget is proposed to be raised by $450,000 to allocate $300,000 from 2001 and 2006 parks sales tax funds. According to city documents, the remaining $150,000 would be transferred to the golf fund for the second-year payment of the Rivercut Golf Community’s loan to replace bridges damaged by flooding in recent years.

The special revenue and capital projects fund would increase in the amount of $132,904, with $121,150 to be paid out of the Fire Department escrow funds held by the city. The remaining funds would be split between insurance reimbursements, community room rentals, and maintenance supplies and upkeep, according to city documents.

General fund adjustments of $80,876 would reimburse the Police Department for restitutions insurance for totaled vehicles, software and sale of city gear, as well as Route 66 Festival items by the Public Information Office.

Council is scheduled to vote on the budget adjustments July 29.

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