Kodiak Daily Mirror - Smoking ban passes first vote
Smoking ban passes first vote
by James Brooks
Jul 03, 2013 | 380 views | 0 0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Aaron Griffin
Aaron Griffin
With a 6-1 vote, the Kodiak Island Borough assembly pushed a controversial ban on public smoking past its first hurdle.

Tuesday night's vote merely means the proposal will come back in two weeks for what undoubtedly will be a hotly contested second vote. If approved at that meeting, the ban would come before voters in the borough's October municipal election.

While Tuesday night's vote has limited long-term meaning, that didn't stop opponents of the ban from turning out en masse to voice their objections to what they see as government overreach into private business. "I don't smoke, and we're talking about government getting more involved in (something) that's none of their business," said William Bethea.

Janet Wente, contributing her comments by telephone, raised concerns that as written, the ban will apply to fishing boats, even those not tied to the dock. "They are as much a business as the businesses that are sitting on the ground in town," she said.

Assemblyman Aaron Griffin, one of the people who drafted the proposed ban, said after the meeting that the idea did come up as the ban was being drafted. In his opinion, the ban would apply to fishing boats working within the 3-mile line that defines the borough's water boundaries, "but that doesn't mean we'll be sending a police boat after them," he said.

Assemblywoman Louise Stutes cast the sole vote against moving the ban forward, saying that her opposition is so strong that she doesn't feel it should even be brought to a public hearing. "I have some real issues with government getting into this part of people's private businesses," she said.

Other members of the assembly who voted for the ban Tuesday said they are not likely to vote for the ban's approval but want to give the public a chance to speak at the next borough assembly meeting.

If the ban survives its next assembly vote and gets public approval in October, it would prohibit smoking “inside every enclosed area within a place of employment.” That includes bars, restaurants, retail stores, buses, taxicabs and even private homes used for child care or businesses.

If approved, the smoking ban would prohibit lighting up in hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, hostels and boarding houses.

Smoking would even be prohibited outdoors, in parks, playgrounds, outdoor stadiums or decks. Smokers would be required to move at least 50 feet away from the entrance to a building before they could light up.

Violating the smoking ban would cost a smoker a $100 fine. A business violating the smoking ban would receive a warning at the first offense, then escalating fines thereafter.

Enforcement would be the responsibility of the borough manager or whoever he designates.

In other business, the assembly narrowly approved the controversial rezoning of a narrow plot of land on Womens Bay. Northland Services has applied to the US Army Corps of engineers to build a new barge dock on the plot, which lies between Coast Guard Base Kodiak and Bells Flats. Several Flats residents stood up to oppose the rezoning as a way to defeat the dock project, which they said will increase traffic danger on the narrow two-lane highway bordering the plot.

"I think if they added the extra traffic from another large terminal on that road ... adding one more does not seem like a good idea," said Flats resident Andy Finke.

The assembly initially tied in its vote to rezone the plot. Tuck Bonney, Aaron Griffin and Louise Stutes voted against the rezoning, while Chris Lynch, Mel Stephens and Carol Austerman voted for it.

"In terms of the borough code and zoning ordinances, there's nothing that says this should not be rezoned," said borough Mayor Jerome Selby, voting to break the tie.

After Selby cast the deciding vote in favor of rezoning, Bonney reversed his vote. This procedural move allows him to bring up the rezoning for another vote at the assembly's next meeting, which assemblyman David Kaplan is expected to attend.

The assembly also:

• appointed Kent Heligso to the trawl vessel seat on the Kodiak fisheries advisory committee;

• approved the borough's comprehensive economic development strategy;

• approved the liquor store license application for Olds River Inn at the Pasagshak "Y";

• approved a $575,000 contract with AIM Maintenance to serve as the road maintenance contractor for Road Service Area No. 1;

• approved a $43,000 contract with the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce for economic development services;

• approved a $75,000 contract with Discover Kodiak for marketing and tourism development services;

• approved a $500,000 change order to the Kodiak Island Borough landfill project, moving blasting forward one phase in order to provide loose rock for construction;

• approved a $197,713 contract with Wolverine Supply Inc. of Wasilla to repaint North Star Elementary School;

• approved a $38,000 contract with Chris Beck of Agnew::Beck to complete the borough's code update;

• and approved a $67,250 contract with Office Tech for the five-year lease of seven copiers.

The borough assembly next meets July 11 for a work session. Its next regular meeting is July 18.

Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com.
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