City passes tobacco law

Tobacco possession by minors can result in fines, community service

No Vacancy.

That was the message the Craig City Council sent last night after once again amending and passing by a 4-2 vote Ordinance 902, which prohibits the use and possession of tobacco by minors in a public place.

Privately-owned vacant lots will now be considered public places under the newly-revised ordinance, giving police the authority to approach minors if they see them smoking on property that is deemed neither private or public.

"I just want to make sure that we cover all of our bases," City Attorney Sherman Romney said. "If there is a vacant property, it needs to be clarified whether or not the police will be allowed to approach minors under this ordinance."

"Does that mean that "no smoking" signs are going to have to be posted on every vacant lot in Craig I don't think so," Councilman Don Jones said.

Police Chief Walt Vanatta also raised concerns about the different revisions in the wording of the ordinance.

"I don't want my officers walking down main street, and if they see someone smoking in a business establishment, feel as if they can arrest them for violating the ordinance," he said. "I don't think that is any of our business whether smoking is allowed in a business establishment. I would feel more comfortable if there were signs posted in these businesses that specifically said 'No smoking.'"

The Council agreed on a new version of the ordinance which amends chapter 9.63, section 4, subtitle B, which now states: "Public place" includes anything on or within a business establishment that is open to the public and has posted a "no tobacco use by minors" sign, or any vacant property, or upon any other private property posted 'no trespassing' or 'no smoking.'"

Businesses will be required to post 'no smoking' signs in their businesses if they intend to enforce the law as it is written.

Councilors Bill Johnston, Natalie Alden, Tom Gilchrist and Kent Nielson voted in favor of passing the ordinance, while Carl Chapman and Don Jones both voted against it. Mayor Dave DeRose was absent.

"I just want to once again say that I am against passing this ordinance," Jones said. "We already have laws in place that are not doing any good. All this is going to do is infringe on property rights and personal rights.

"The first thing we are going to do with the kids who break this law is send them to a class," he said. "We've been doing that for 12 years and apparently that doesn't work. This is only going to create a hardship on the police department and strain the relationship between police and kids even more so than it is now."

Only a handful of residents attended Tuesday's meeting, with no one speaking against passing the ordinance and Pres Askew, president of Citizens for Health Children, being the only speaker in favor of the ordinance.

"Since we don't know yet how well this is going to work yet, I think it is a good idea that we pass it and at least see if it will work or not," he said. "With this new sunset clause in there, if it doesn't work in two years, we get rid of it."

"That's the only way that I would support this ordinance," Johnston said. "I don't feel comfortable passing it if in two years it isn't doing any good and whoever is sitting [on the Council] two years from now doesn't want it."

The ordinance's sunset clause will allow the sitting Council, two years from now, the opportunity to review the effectiveness of the ordinance.

The ordinance will go into effect 10 days after is its published in the Craig Daily Press.

In other news, the Council:

Approved the renewal of a club liquor license for the Craig BPO Elks Lodge 1577 at 43 Victory Way.

Approved the renewal the 3.2 percent retail beer liquor license for the Craig Pizza Hut at 1070 Victory Way.

Approved the renewal of the 3.2 percent retail beer liquor license for City Market at 505 West Victory Way.

Approved the purchase of a card-operated water sales station from Waterproducts.net for a base quote of $10,670.

Approved an easement agreement with Billy Mack for access to the sewer lagoons.

Approved an agreement to form and operate the Moffat County Human Resource Council. Instead of requesting funds from the city, non-profit groups will approach the Human Resource Council, which will be partially funded by the city.

Approved Resolution No. 8, adopting the state of Colorado regulations for manufactured housing installations, which requires new home owners to place a four-foot foundation underneath all manufactured homes.

Approved Ordinance 904, which ratifies existing zoning as open space for property that had been sold by the City.

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