Athens Mayor Steve Patterson spoke to Athens City Council on Monday about the city’s efforts to prevent the sale of flavored tobacco products within city limits.
During his report, Patterson told Council he requested and received a copy of Columbus’ proposed flavored tobacco ordinance, which would effectively ban the sale and distribution of flavored tobacco and menthol products in the capital city.
Patterson said the purpose of a flavored tobacco ordinance would be to deter young people from using products like hookah, cigarillos and dip. He’s working with Councilwoman Sarah Grace, D-at large, and Jack Pepper, administrator at the Athens City-County Health Department (ACCHD), to amend the ordinance to fit Athens’ specifications.
“We all recognize (flavored tobacco) is something that is certainly attractive to younger individuals, and I believe it poses a significant health concern when it comes to our youth and adults,” Patterson said.
The ordinance would likely be enforced through the ACCHD, which would be tasked with granting and rescinding permits for city businesses based on their adherence to the ordinance. Grace said the ordinance would only affect businesses within Athens city limits if passed.
Earlier in the meeting, Council held a public hearing on a recommendation from the Athens City Planning Commission (ACPC) to amend several sections of the city’s zoning code, one of which governs the buffer between drive-in or drive-through restaurants and residential communities.
Greg LaVelle, an Athens resident, asked Council to reconsider the ACPC’s recommendation that the code be changed to allow drive-in and drive-through food and drink establishments to operate closer to single- and double-family residences. Currently, the code stipulates those establishments operate at least 200 feet away from residential zones, but the proposed changes would allow them to operate within 100 feet of residences.
“I think it would drive a lot of (single-family) residents that live right next to those businesses out of the neighborhood like they already have in our neighborhood,” LaVelle said.
During the meeting, councilman Alan Swank, D-4th Ward, mentioned the possibility of Chipotle and Starbucks locations being added to East State Street, across the street from Advance Auto Parts. Grace said the locations are likely to be drive-through only because of zoning limitations. The current timeline of the locations being added to East State Street is unknown.
Additionally, Council approved an ordinance to purchase up to $168,000 worth of water softening salt for the city’s water treatment plant. Andy Stone, service safety director, said that price was relatively unaffected by widespread inflation.