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City Council must clarify smoking ban defintions before approval

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By Chris Sardelli

Amanda Phipps
For The Lancaster News
Some aspects of the smoking ordinance will need to be clarified before Lancaster City Council approves it.
The city will need to define what constitutes private clubs, retail tobacco stores and private offices, which are all exempt from the smoking ordinance, said Donna Parsons and Vicki Hinson, members of the county’s Health and Wellness Commission.
The two woman addressed issues remaining with the ordinance during a public hearing held during the Lancaster City Council meeting Tuesday, Sept. 10.
The proposed ordinance would ban smoking inside restaurants, bars and other public-access areas within the city limits. Lancaster County and the towns of Heath Springs and Kershaw have already passed the ordinance.
Parsons provided city council with definitions recommended to by the S.C. Tobacco-Free Collaborative, as well as the current definitions used to write the county’s smoking ordinance.
She said the way the current ordinance reads, these groups (private clubs, retail tobacco stores and private offices) are loosely defined, leaving the door open for various interpretations.
Once those definitions are clarified, it will be considered comprehensive and can be presented to council, she said.
Parsons said Lancaster  County could become the first county in the state to have a comprehensive plan, which would mean a statewide and possible national spotlight. The ordinance will rely on resident complaints.
“It is citizen driven,” Parsons said.
Parsons said the county has had three complaints since the ordinance went into effect March 1.
Air/Rail Park
Council also discussed the Air/Rail Industrial Park on S.C. 9.
The Rev. Kenneth Cauthen, minister of Mt. Nebo Baptist Church, asked for council’s help in getting a septic tap for the church that would tie into the Air/Rail Park project which is under construction. The church is adjacent to the park.
Cauthen told Council  he would like to know how to get the tap at no cost to the church, or know what the cost would be if that is not possible.
“We are not opposing the park, we are just asking that the County take into consideration the needs of the church,” Cauthen said.
City administrator Helen Sowell said the septic tap would cost the municipality between $20,000 to $30,000, something it can’t afford at this time.
Raising chickens
Lancaster resident Mark Griffith proposed an ordinance to allow the raising of chickens within city limits.
Based off similar ordinances in Charlotte, Columbia and Spartanburg, the measure would allow a maximum of four setting hens per household. A $40 fee would be charged per household with a permit to be displayed on the coop enclosure.
The ordinance wouldn’t allow the raising of roosters or poultry slaughtering.
“(Roosters) are obviously a noise problem,” Griffith said.
Safety in Southside
Southside resident Ernestine Brown James said she needs law enforcement to be more proactive in that community.
James said she fears for her mother’s safety as young men roam her mother’s neighborhood, hanging out in the neighbor’s yard and smoking. James said there has also been guns fired in the area near her mother’s house.
Lancaster Police Department Chief Harlean Howard said the department is working to address crime in the Southside neighborhood.
“We’re pounding the pavement in this area,” she said. “(However), we cannot be in a specific area for 24 hours a day.”
Councilman Gonzie Mackey said he hopes something can be done soon.
“The majority of crime is in the Southside area,” he said.
Howard urged residents to post no trespassing signs and give the department written permission to enforce it.
Action items  
u City council authorized an additional $7,000 for the Erwin Farm Pump Station upgrade, to include replacing the entire line based on engineer Brian Tripp’s recommendation. The change will not affect the initial project cost of $522,000 due to other modifications.
u Council also approved a second change order for Air/Rail Park, in which the city’s cost was increased from $456,600 to $461,171 due to the need for additional work.
u Council approved a motion by Mayor Joe Shaw to appoint Charlie Harrell and Larry Durham to the Lancaster County Capital Sales Tax Committee. The two men participated in the last capital project committee when the new courthouse was built.
“Both of these are honorable gentlemen,” said Lancaster City Councilman John Howard said. “I believe they will represent us well.”
u Council also approved $25,000 in additional funding for the Facade Grant Program, which provides grants to local merchants to spruce up their businesses.
The program has 14 pending projects carried over from fiscal 2012-13 and 13 applications that have been approved, said Teresa Meeks, director of support services.
Without the additional funding, no more projects can be pursued for this fiscal year.
“This is one of very few – if not the only – incentive for businesses downtown,” Meeks said. “We have momentum going on now, I hate to see it end.”
The $25,000 will be combined with the program’s $50,000 budget to complete all currently approved applications. Any applications that have yet to be approved will have to wait until the next fiscal year, Meeks said.
Councilwoman Tamara Green Garris said she hopes the facade grants will  help keep jobs here.
“You have my full support,” she said.