City council is discussing putting an ordinance in place prohibiting smoking in these areas because of the fire hazard it poses.
The idea was put forth by City Attorney Bill Bailey, who said he routinely observes groups of 10 to 15 people gathered in a downtown alley to smoke.
“They’re very dangerous places,” he said of the closely-cordoned areas. “I think it’s a very serious matter.”
“One flip of a cigarette into a dumpster and we’ve got a problem,” he added.
One specific alleyway he referred to is home to a furniture refinishing business, he said; fire near components used to treat wood could be a serious fire hazard.
Council members agreed to consider an ordinance banning smoking in alleyways, but Council Member David Hammond pointed out that it would have to be enforced throughout the entire city.
“One fire downtown is a disaster,” he said. “But it’s (the ordinance) got to be enforced to everybody.”
Council also discussed cleanup for a property at 420 South Wall Street. The house that stood on it burned last year and “without a doubt cannot be repaired at any reasonable expense,” according to Bailey.
The owner has not responded to the city’s queries regarding cleanup processes, he said.
In order to conduct cleanup, the city will most likely put a lien on the property, explained City Administrator Eddie Peterson; the lien will be paid later by the entity that eventually endeavors to sell the property.
Also during the Monday, Jan. 17 meeting, city council members:
*Approved a beer package license request from Patsy Colleps for Chevron Food Mart at 549 Highway 53 in Calhoun.
*Set qualifying fees for the 2011 elections. They are as follows: mayor - $432; council - $144; school board - $1 (school board members serve with no payment, hence the considerably lower qualifying fee)