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Iowa City expands smoking ban.

Posted in Uncategorized by adambsullivan on September 11, 2008

By Adam B Sullivan

(IOWA CITY) – The City Council voted unanimously last night to expand the scope of the state-wide smoking ban to include some outdoor areas.

The council passed an ordinance putting out smoking in several areas including the downtown pedestrian mall and city-owned parking ramps.

The ordinance also increases fines for littering in the pedestrian mall.

Captain Matt Johnson of the Iowa City Police Department, said that despite the newly expanded smoking ban, a sharp influx of smoking-related citations isn’t expected.

“Our perspective on the new ordinance is that our objective would be first and foremost to provide education,” he said.

Councilors also took a second vote on a measure that would allow the construction of a Super Wal-Mart at 1001 Highway 1 West, the site of a current Wal-Mart store.

Two Iowa City residents appeared before the council to voice their opinions against Wal-Mart.

When you put in something like Wal-Mart, you really are injuring the local business,” Iowa City resident Brandon Ross said. “You’re making a statement about labor. You’re making a statement about wage-earning. You’re making a statement about how the town looks.”

The ordinance passed for the second time by a margin of 6-1, with councilor Mike Wright voting no.

“You need to look at what’s on the table. Ultimately, I don’t think this is good for the community,” he said.

However, other council members stressed that the ordinance is strictly a land-use issue.

“I’m not going to make a land use decision based on weather I like [Wal-Mart] or not…” Councilor Ross Wilburn said.

Councilors also pointed out that the ability of the current Wal-Mart to sustain itself is evidence of public support for Wal-Mart.

“If people didn’t vote with their wallet, Wal-Mart wouldn’t be there,” Councilor Mike O’Donnell said.

The next scheduled meeting of the Iowa City City Council is on Sept. 23.



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