By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- A ban on smoking in town parks and other outdoors areas failed to pass Tuesday night.
Strasburg Town Council vote 5-2 against the proposed ordinance which would prohibit smoking in town-owned, leased or operated places such as Hometown Park, Riverwalk and the swimming pool.
The arguments fell along the lines of rights of the individual versus town laws. Those members opposed to the ordinance expressed fear the law would overreach the bounds of the town and could infringe on a person's right to smoke in an outdoor setting. The two members who voted in support of the measure commented that the proposal takes into consideration the rights of non-smokers as well as addresses perceived problems related to the activity such as littering, nuisance and the fire hazard created by discarded butts.
Council members Donald M. Le Vine, Sarah K. Mauck, Jocelyn Vena, Scott E. Terndrup and John M. Hall Jr. voted against the proposal. Councilmen Robert B. Baker and Rich A. Orndorff Jr. voted in favor. Councilman Richard A. Redmon did not attend the meeting.
Several council members, including Le Vine, Mauck and Vena, said they don't like being around second-hand smoke. However, the members said they walk away from the smoke. Some members also questioned whether the ordinance was too vague in its identifying outdoor public areas.
After a debate on the issue, Le Vine suggested the town follow Terndrup's suggestion that Strasburg put up signs and encourage people to show courtesy when smoking outdoors near non-smokers.
Town resident Kim Bishop spoke at the scheduled public hearing against the proposed ordinance and refuted that the issues raised about smoking outdoors really amounted to serious problems. Bishop said most litter on the trails and other public areas come from plastic bottles and wrappers, not cigarettes.
Resident Kathy Lawhead spoke in favor of the proposal and told council she tried to spend time at a town park with her 21-month-old grandson but had to leave when someone started smoking nearby because the child has had a heart transplant.
Council wouldn't entertain Orndorff's recommendation that members revisit the matter in a work session.