By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen officials will soon begin research on an ordinance to ban smoking in the city.
"I would like to see the whole city be a nonsmoking city," Councilman Juan Rivera said.
The Killeen City Council gave a 4-3 consensus during a workshop Tuesday to form a committee that will research the feasibility, gather input and potentially draft an ordinance that would prohibit smoking in public places. Rivera, Mayor Pro Tem Fred Latham, Councilman Wells and Councilwoman Claudia Brown said they are in favor of working on a smoke-free city ordinance. Council members Billy Workman, Larry Cole and Otis Evans voted against it.
"Too hard," Evans said. "No."
Latham asked for the issue to be brought up. He said he at least wanted changes made to the current ordinance that regulates where people can smoke in public places. Parks are not included.
"When I go to the ballpark with my grandkids, there are people smoking in the stands," Latham said.
He also said it would be prudent for the city to consider being more restrictive of smoking in public places.
"More and more people continue to get cancer," Latham said.
If Killeen went smoke free in public places, it would not be the first city. City Attorney Kathy Davis said 18 cities in Texas have approved smoke-free ordinances, including Tyler, which passed it earlier this month.
She said some cities, such as Amarillo, put it up to a vote by residents. Amarillo residents will vote on the issue in May.
Davis said the procedure to write such an ordinance would be to form a committee to research the feasibility.
That would also include holding public hearings. If the committee feels like it is a good idea after those steps, it would work with city staff to draft an ordinance for the council to consider.
The council agreed to form a committee. Workman, who said he was against the ordinance, was the first to volunteer to sit on the committee. Mayor Timothy Hancock said he would have to consider that before he makes his recommendation of committee members.
"If you are opposed to something, I have a problem appointing you to a committee," Hancock said, but added he would think about it.
Workman said just because he was opposed to it doesn't mean he can't find a way to work out a compromise through discussion.
The current smoking ordinance was adopted in 1991 and prohibits smoking or possessing burning tobacco in a public place.
Exceptions include designated smoking areas in a restaurant or business, retail or service establishments with less than 750 square feet or having only one employee on duty or retail business primarily engaged in selling tobacco or tobacco products.
Designated smoking areas must be separately ventilated or ventilated so that smoke-filled air from smoking areas is not drawn into nonsmoking areas.
The council had a meeting following its workshop. At the meeting, the council:
Appointed James Dukes Jr. to the position of administrative adjudication hearing officer for the photographic traffic signal enforcement system.
Dukes, who is a volunteer, served 27 years in the Army and has volunteered for the police department for several years.
"He has a very good working relationship with the police department," Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said. "We feel he is fair, he is methodical in everything he does."
Duke said he just wants to help the community.
"This is my city, too," Dukes said.
Approved tax abatement guidelines and criteria for the downtown historic district, as defined by the HyettPalma Downtown Revitalization Action Agenda.
Beverly Zendt, downtown project manager, said a significant change to the city's current tax abatement policy includes lowering the minimum investment from $250,000 to $50,000 for consideration.
"It gives high consideration to historic projects," Zendt added, noting historic projects include buildings at least 50 years old if changes reflect historic standards.
She said it also gives tax abatement consideration to new developments in the historic district if they follow the historic theme.
"This tool is a common tool for revitalization," Zendt said.
Approved a rezoning request from the Killeen Independent School District for 56.75 acres on Trimmier Road, about 900 feet south of Stagecoach Road, for the new middle school site.
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