Friday, February 8, 2008

Health board plans to have much lighter limits on outdoor smoking

The Woodford County Board of Health decided last night to scale back its proposed smoking ban, largely to meet the objections of restaurant owners, and primarily those in Midway.

Outdoor smoking at businesses will be limited only to within "a reasonable distance," at least 3 feet from any public entrance. That will keep smokers out of doorways but allow continued smoking on restaurant patios. That was a big issue for Midway restaurants such as The Black Tulip, which has a patio with tables at its front entrance.

Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth, who attended the meeting, said afterward, "I think it's good for us, and I'm happy." County Health Director Garland VanZant said the board plans to have first reading of the revised ordinance next month, a public hearing in April and final passage in May, with the ordinance to take effect around July 1.

VanZant said the board also decided to exclude volunteers of non-profit groups from the definition of "employee," a change sought by veterans' organizations, and to ban all smoking in hotels and motels, instead of requiring designated smoking or non-smoking rooms. VanZant said Woodford County has no hotels or motels. One is planned along Interstate 64 at Midway.

For a copy of the draft regulation, click here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Midway restaurants, other businesses object to outdoor limits proposed in county smoking ban

By Melissa Hill
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

VERSAILLES, Ky. -- Many residents and business owners attended last night's forum in Versailles on a proposed smoking ban in Woodford County, including Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth and Bill Van Den Dool, the owner of The Black Tulip restaurant.

One of their main concerns is the provision that would prohibit smoking within 25 feet of outside entrances or open windows. “Twenty-five feet in Midway is a lot," Bozarth said. "If you go out 25 feet, you’re going to be in the middle of the road. This needs to be addressed. It will not work in Midway.”

Van Den Dool’s main issue is his restaurant's patio. He says when the weather is warm, he gets most of his business from people eating, relaxing, and smoking on the patio. “I can understand no smoking indoors, but people on the patio should not have to be asked not to smoke,” he said. Other restaurants in Midway, such as the Holly Hill Inn and Quirk CafĂ© and Coffee, have patios.

Bozarth and Van Den Dool were not the only Midway business owners and residents with concerns about the proposal. At a merchants meeting in Midway this morning, many business owners expressed their opinions. Quirk owner Grayson Vandegrift said, “We put a lot of time and money into our businesses and to tell us what we can and can’t do is wrong.” Midway businesses already ban smoking on their own, but not to the extent the county Board of Health has proposed.

Overall, business owners said the ban would be a good thing, but feel the health board, residents and business owners should work out a compromise. Bozarth told them he plans to write a letter expressing Midway’s concerns to County Judge-Executive John Coyle, the health board chairman. Some Midway business owners are petitioning Coyle, saying they want a compromise that would benefit all residents.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit smoking in all enclosed public places and places of employment, including restaurants, bars, sports arenas, and shopping malls, as well as many other public places.

Health Department Director Garland VanZant said in an interview that the health board will meet tomorrow evening to discuss what transpired at the forum. He said the board may send the proposal back to the committee that developed it and ask the committee to meet with restaurant owners and concerned residents to work something out, or could drop it. VanZant said passage of the ordinance would require a first and second reading and a formal public hearing, which probably would not be until May, if then.

Midway can be more than just the town of 1,620

Where is Midway, Ky.? A complete answer to that question should also answer another form of the question: What is Midway?
Why? Because Midway can be more than just the land and people in the city limits. About 2,500 people have Midway addresses because they live in the ZIP code that includes the city, 40347. For example, former Gov. Brereton Jones is often referred to as "a Midway horse breeder," though his home is closer to Franklin County than to the Midway city limits. A HometownLocator.com map of the postal zone appears below. It includes small parts of eastern Franklin County and southern Scott County.
The Census Bureau has a slightly different "definition" of Midway, limited to the boundaries of Woodford County. It is smaller than the ZIP code area, but includes a section east of Pisgah Pike and north of Old Frankfort Pike that is not in the postal zone. Here is the Midway census tract: