City Council to vote on outdoor smoking regulations


In this Jan. 25 file photo, the City Council discusses the possibility of voting to change the city’s current outdoor smoking regulations at public places at the next council meeting. From left to right: Sixth Ward Alderperson Mike Verbic, Fourth Ward Alderperson Patrick Fagan, Mayor Jerry Smith and Fifth Ward Alderspon Kate Noreiko.

By Sara Rasmussen

DeKALB | The City Council approved to vote on amending DeKalb’s outdoor smoking regulations at next council meeting.

First Ward Alderperson David Jacobson and Sixth Ward Alderperson Michael Verbic requested the council consider amending the 2014 smoking regulations during an October Committee of the Whole meeting. It was decided during the October meeting that DeKalb’s current smoking regulations which prohibit smoking within 15 feet of any entryway should be reviewed by the Citizens Environmental Commission and the Economic Development Commission.

William Oleckno, long-standing member and former Environmental Commission chair, shared a health article about smoking, which stated patio smokers have an affect on people’s health.

“In enforcing restrictions on smoking in outdoor patios, the city of DeKalb has distinguished itself as deeply concerned about the health and welfare of its residents,” said Oleckno. “In my professional opinion, it would be a serious mistake to roll back these restrictions.”

The Economic Development Commission reached a consensus Dec. 1 to allow business owners to choose for themselves.

Jacobson said he thinks restaurant owners should be allowed to decide whether their customers can smoke on their patio or not. He said business owners whose establishments generally entertain college students say their number of patrons has dropped since the smoking regulation was put in place.

“A stated goal in our community is to attract students to stay, and nightlife is consistently rated their No. 1 issue of why they don’t stay here,” Jacobson said. The City Council approved to bring it to a vote next meeting.

Request for Demolition of Edgebrook Drive Building

The council is looking at possibilities of what to do with an aged four-story apartment building located at 912 Edgebrook Drive.

Last year, the city acquired the land for $192,500 along with authorization to spend an additional $57,500 to stabilize and secure the property’s structure.

Some options include demolishing the building and charging parking fees to allow residents, who are affected by the parking ban being implemented throughout the city to reduce crime, use of the space. Another option is to renovate the concrete and steel building into another usable structure.

The goal at the meeting was to receive consensus from the council to proceed on the project.

Gene Lowery, DeKalb Police Department chief, is concerned about the building’s structure and possible criminal activity on its premises.

“All I know for sure is the building is not safe, and we’ve got it boarded up and secured now, but boarded-up buildings get broken into all the time and a fire could easily occur in that building,” Lowery said. “It would be nice to have a decision sooner rather than later.”

The Council plans on deciding what to do in the next couple of months, so they have enough time to get bids on the price of demolition and be able to take them into consideration.