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Council mulls changes in smoking ordinance, but no action taken

The City Council's end of the year effort to clean up the no smoking ordinance took considerable discussion and brought some last minute suggestions and opposition to the changes.

The City Council's end of the year effort to clean up the no smoking ordinance took considerable discussion and brought some last minute suggestions and opposition to the changes.
The council held a special meeting Thursday evening to pass a pair of amendments designed to clarify two aspects of the ordinance.
Councilor Russ Stewart said the ordinance as written would have allowed restaurants that didn't have a liquor license to have a smoking room and did not allow restaurants with a liquor license to have one.
Stewart said the intent all along was that all restaurants would be able to have one.
The other change pertained to smoking after 8 p.m. and the age limit. The amendment reflects the original intent of the council, which was to protect people 18 and under from secondhand smoke.
The change makes it clear that smoking may be permitted at restaurants with liquor with alcohol licenses after 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. if persons under 18 are not allowed to remain on the premises.
That change brought an objection from Brian Daugherty, representing five restaurants owned by Grandma's.
"I thought the original ordinance did a good job," he said. "There will be a sales loss for our restaurants if you do not let 18-year-olds in after 8 p.m."
He asked if the council could find a way to add the two amendments without the age provision. "We have plenty of families after 8 o'clock," he said.
But several councilors referred back to the original intent of the ordinance and stuck with the age provision.
"It's an enormous strain for some businesses," said LuAnn Wasbotten with Old Chicago. "I don't see how I can comply with two rooms."
She cited the high cost of modifying the establishment to physically separate the bar from the restaurant. Wasbotten also asked the council to consider tabling the ordinance for a month so businesses could get the proper signs up.
Councilor Ken Hogg pointed out that the actual ordinance had already passed and will take effect Jan. 1, and the council was only considering the amendments at this meeting.
Some speakers also brought up the hardship clause in the ordinance designed to help small restaurants which suffer financially under the new law.
No action was taken, but Councilor Rob Stenberg said it discriminated against large businesses. Stenberg, Stewart and Patty Edwards were the three councilors who voted against the original ordinance passed in June.
Edwards remained consistent and cast the only vote against the amendments.
"It's tough doing business in this town," she said. "I don't want to make it any tougher."

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