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Heath Springs Atown Council delays decision on smoking ordinance

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Sowell wants to first gauge public response

By Jesef Williams

HEATH SPRINGS – Heath Springs officials will wait to see how the county’s new anti-smoking ordinance is received before they take any action on the measure.

Last month, Lancaster County Council adopted an ordinance to ban smoking inside all public-access places, including bars and restaurants.

The measure, though, only applies to unincorporated areas, as Lancaster County’s three municipalities will have to approve their own ordinances for the ban to truly be countywide.

The ordinance was an item on Heath Springs Town Council’s meeting agenda Tuesday, Dec. 18. After Mayor Ann Taylor explained the reason for the town’s consideration of it, Town Councilman Ted Sowell motioned to put it off until the new year.

He believes it would be prudent to take time to see residents’ response to the county’s decision.

“I’d like to suggest we postpone creating our ordinance and see what kind of ‘kettle of fish’ is opened up throughout the county,” Sowell said.

Town Council then unanimously passed Sowell’s motion.

Ordinance details

Though County Council adopted its anti-smoking ordinance last month, penalties for infractions won’t be enforced until March 1, 2013.

Violators will not be arrested for smoking in a public buildings, Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis said last month.

Arrest warrants can’t be issued for violations, though law enforcement can issue ordinance summons.

Listed penalties include fines between $10 and $25 for individual violators. 

For owners, managers or operators of a public place of employment, fines can be up to $50 for a first violation and no more than $100 for subsequent violations.

Each municipality can establish different fine amounts, as well as the list of prohibited places.

However, they can’t make smoking a criminal offense to where jail time could ensue, Willis said.

Lancaster City Administrator Helen Sowell and Kershaw Town Administrator Bryan Pettit both said their respective councils will likely discuss the ordinance in January.

Comprehensive plan

Also at its Tuesday meeting, Heath Springs Town Council passed final reading of an ordinance to approve changes to Lancaster County’s comprehensive plan.

The document details a host of information about the county, such as population numbers, demographic data and geographic information.

The county is required to update the plan every five years. The state also recommends the plan be rewritten every 10 years.

Chief changes this time were updates to the population numbers based on the 2010 Census and modifications to some of the maps.

“I don’t think it had any changes that pertained to us,” Town Councilman Mark Bridges said. “It was sort of a formality.”

 

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152