The Springfield City Council members who supported a smoke-free air ordinance preferred shutting down their proposal completely to an amended version that may have left the door open to too many exceptions.
At the June 28 council meeting, Springfield Mayor Jim O’Neal and council members Dan Chiles, John Rush and Cindy Rushefsky withdrew the smoke-free air ordinance they’d sponsored. O’Neal said he’s hopeful the withdrawal, made shortly after the 6-3 passage of an amendment allowing exemptions to certain nonprofits, allows the full intent of the ordinance to be decided by voters.
“The folks at the One Air Alliance will get an initiative petition on the ballot, and we’ll get this done correctly, at the ballot box,” O’Neal said. “The vast majority of citizens here believe that’s the right thing to do.”
Advocacy group One Air Alliance and O’Neal last month introduced an anti-smoking ordinance that would have banned smoking in nearly all public spaces, eliminating dozens of exemptions for bars and restaurants under the current law passed in 2003. But after amendments again opened the door to exemptions, representatives of One Air and American Cancer Society withdrew their support of the bill.
During a first reading and public hearing on June 28, council approved an O’Neal-proposed amendment to the smoking-ban bill, exempting businesses that generate at least 70 percent of sales from tobacco and tobacco-related products. Another amendment, initiated by Councilman Nicholas Ibarra and approved by six council members, increased exemptions to private clubs run by fraternal or benevolent not-for-profit organizations such as veterans groups. The exceptions, advocacy group leaders said, watered down the reach of the ordinance.
“If you’re going to make the same mistakes we made in 2003 and exempt any organization that wants to play bingo in the back of their bar, then you’ve made a terrible mistake,” said Josh Garrett, field government relations director at American Cancer Society, who withdrew ACS support of the ordinance.
Garrett was one of 46 members of the public who signed up to speak to the bill. Another, One Air co-chairperson Carrie Reynolds, also withdrew that group’s endorsement.
“There is too much exposure happening in this community. It is a public health issue, it is a workers’ health issue, and we cannot support it,” Reynolds said.
The day after the meeting, American Heart Association pledged in a news release to support One Air Alliance and any effort to put a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance on the ballot.
“We applaud the efforts of the Springfield One Air Alliance, and we are looking forward to working with them to put this smoke-free issue in front of voters in the near future,” Jace Smith, AHA’s state government relations director, said in the release. “A smoke-free ordinance in Springfield would be a welcome change because all businesses would be able to operate under one set of rules.”Bank interested in Carson’s property
A bank is angling to purchase the 1.75-acre property at 3184 E. Sunshine St., formerly Carson’s Nurseries. Current owner CY Properties LLC, the nursery’s parent company, has requested a rezoning of the property to general retail from a planned development district, said Mike MacPherson, the city’s principal planner.
Before the rezoning takes effect, some changes would need to be made to the property, including the removal of the nursery and the addition of sidewalks along Sunshine Street and Mayfield Avenue, MacPherson said.
Deb Scott, commercial real estate agent at Wilhoit Properties, said the sale of the property is contingent on the zoning change, and the buyer’s name would not be disclosed until after the sale is complete.
The property has been on the market about 10 months, Scott said, and under contract for 90 days. In December, Springfield Business Journal reported the listing price was $1.6 million, and according to www.wilhoitproperties.com
, the asking price has dropped to $1.3 million.
Council will vote on the rezoning at its July 12 meeting.[[In-content Ad]]