Business owner disputes ordinance

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 31, 2005

The City of Luverne's recent passing of a no-smoking ordinance still has its detractors.

Mark Grant, owner of Our House restaurant, addressed the city council on Monday night.

"First of all it doesn't affect me at all because I don't smoke," Grant said. "But our customers don't like it. I've had 14 people come up to me and tell me that. To me it's against free business. And there are only two or three restaurants that offered smoking sections anyway inside the city. It seems like those restaurants are being picked out."

Mayor Joe Rex Sport told Grant that a concentrated amount of discussion went into the proposed ordinance, scheduled to go into effect on April 15. Restaurants will be required to post signage informing patrons and employees of the smoking ban.

"This is not something we just started looking into in the last three months," he said. "This is something that's been discussed for three years now. And it's happening all over. We've talked to the mayors and councils of other cities in this are who have this ordinance. And those who don't have it are putting one in."

Sport said the majority of Luverne citizens who responded to the city's request for comments concerning the no-smoking ordinance were for the ban. But there were dissenters, Sport said, and even one non-smoker who was in agreement with Grant about how he felt the no-smoking ordinance interfered with the rights of the individual business owner.

Grant asked why the ordinance was 'prejudiced' towards cigarette smoke and not smokeless tobacco products.

"My employees have to clean this stuff up," he said. "There's people that come and leave dip and chew in our coffee cups. It's just nasty."

Councilman Pat Walker said the door was left open for the council to do just that, but city attorney Mike Jones told Grant the banning of second-hand smoke was the city's main objective.

"People don't breath in smokeless tobacco," he said. "It does harm to the individual who uses it. Second-hand smoke can cause cancer to those in the vicinity of people that smoke cigarettes."

Grant still expressed his displeasure for the city's decision before leaving the meeting.

"It just seems discriminating to me," he said.

Russty Parris, the county extension coordinator, was on hand for the meeting to accept a $2,500 check from the city to help boost the county school's 4-H program. The 4-H program has also received $5,000 from Sen. Wendell Mitchell and $2,000 from Rep. Charles Newton. Brantley is also donating funds to the program which will be presented at the town council's next meeting.

Also, last week was Senator Richard Shelby's announcement that $330,667 had been released from the Department of Transportation for downtown revitalization in Luverne. Those funds were secured in the fiscal year 2005 federal appropriations process.

"I am pleased that these funds are being released to assist downtown Luverne with its revitalization efforts, which will encourage economic development in this area," stated Shelby.

The council also:

n Appointed Beth Brown to the Planning Commission.

n Appointed Cynthia Newman and Gloria Linton to the Mental Health Board.

n Named Harold Kilpatrick to a new term with the Housing Authority .