Oakwood smoking ordinance dies; discussions ongoing

By SHERRI KOLADE

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Although a smoking ban ordinance “died” after sitting on the City Council’s Committee of the Whole agenda for 90 days, the discussion is far from over in nearby neighborhoods.

On Feb. 28, in the Council Chambers, City Council President Thomas Tafelski approved to let an agenda item, a smoking ban ordinance at Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center, 18101 Oakwood Blvd., “die.”

City councilors were expected to table the item March 4.

Deputy City Clerk    Lola Isiminger said the issue will not come up again unless someone from the Council brings it up.

If councilors do not table or vote on an agenda item for 90 days, it is “dead” regardless of whether a quorum is present.

Tafelski and Councilors Nancy Hubbard and Mark Shooshanian were in attendance.

Councilors first approved the smoking ban ordinance in January 2012 under the offenses chapter of the city code. The code added hospitals to the list of places where smokers had to be at least 100 feet away before smoking. Subsequently, the 100-foot ban pushed hospital smokers into nearby neighborhoods, which caused concern for some residents.

In December, hospital officials went before the city asking for help in moving smokers away from Oakwood Boulevard.

Tafelski said during the Feb. 28 meeting that Oakwood Hospital officials reached out to the city’s corporation counsel to discuss a potential solution.

“(Oakwood Hospital) is looking to add an area to the rear of their property where they are going to convert it to a park, sell it to a non-profit and make it attractive for a picnic area,” he said, “and because it is a non-profit, smokers could potentially go there and utilize it.”

Councilors discussed concerns at meetings that getting rid of the January 2012 ordinance would bring smokers back to Oakwood Boulevard

Tafelski said the city is making progress with the smoking ban issue and “the neighbors seem to be happy with it.”

Dearborn resident Donna Chaffin, who lives near Oakwood Hospital on Venice, saw things a little differently.

“We’ve been fighting this for a year with Oakwood,” she said. “So then Oakwood goes and gets this ordinance passed and we have been talking with the City Council and that has made Oakwood realize that the residents are not going anywhere.”

Chaffin said Oakwood’s 100-foot smoking ban policy is fine, but because residential properties are located just outside non-smoking zone, it pushes smokers there.

“Don’t be a hypocrite and put them in the neighborhoods and say it is OK for them to smoke there,” she said. “That has been the whole problem because they walk by and they blow the smoke in your face and they throw the cigarette butts in your yard.”

Chaffin said one of her primary concerns is safety because strangers are walking through her neighborhoods.

“We don’t know who they are unless we can identify them with hospital scrubs,” she said. “At least 10 people go (into the neighborhoods) and smoke three or four times a day. We needed to get somebody to do something.”

Deputy Corporation Counsel Laurie Ellerbrake and Oakwood Hospital Spokeswoman Paula Rivera-Kerr did not return calls by press time.

      (Sherri Kolade can be reached at skolade@bewickpublications.com.)

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