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Board OKs bans on smoking, fireworks in city

The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen has finally reached a decisionon the long-discussed ordinances that prohibit smoking in localrestaurants and the sale and shooting of fireworks within thecity.

The smoking ordinance was brought back to the board in finalform Tuesday night. Mayor Bob Massengill explained the ordinance,which was approved unanimously, addresses and prohibits smoking inall restaurants within the city limits with few exceptions.

“It gives exception if a provided smoking area is partitioned offand has separate heating and cooling systems,” he said.

Officially, smoking is not prohibited in private businesses unlessthey opt in and notify the city.

Businesses, though, are free to put up “No Smoking” signs on theirown. However, businesses do have to opt in if they want the city toenforce the smoking ban in their establishments.

“This is unique,” said Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell. “No otherordinance like this is putting the burden on the business. It’s alittle different because it gives business owners a choice.”

The ordinance also prohibits smoking in outdoor sportingarenas.

The fireworks ordinance was a little more nebulous when it wasbrought to the table.

Aldermen were trying to decide between the options of allowingthose who had already been selling in areas recently annexed by thecity and allowing residents with a certain amount of acreage toshoot the fireworks, and straight ban on sale and shooting withouta special permit in the city limits.

Maxwell argued in favor of allowing a few specific businesses thathad been selling for years in what is now the city since lastyear’s annexation.

“These businesses have been doing this every year for years,” hesaid. “They’re not really temporary because they have beenpermanent when they can be open.”

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron said it isn’t fair for the city tofine people who shoot fireworks in city limits if they were able tobuy them in the city limits.

“We have an ordinance against shooting in the city and if we allowsales, they’re going to shoot too,” he said. “How are we going tofine kids that shoot them, or their parents, when we allowed thesale?”

Police Chief Pap Henderson said when there are fireworks violationsin the city, the violators are usually arrested.

“I wasn’t going to get into this,” he said. “The question is whyyou let them sell them if we can’t shoot them, and my personalfeeling is you either let them sell and shoot or nothing.”

Aldermen voted to ban fireworks in the city by a vote of 4-1, withMaxwell voting against the ordinance. Ward Three Alderwoman MaryWilson was not present.

Maxwell said things such as the fireworks issue are reasons why theannexation drew so much resistance.

“There are now lots of people in the city limits with large tractsof land that were out in the county,” he said. “That’s why peopledon’t want to be taken in in an annexation like we just did -because we’re taking their rights away.”