Smoking ordinance passes, again

Published 2:20 pm Wednesday, May 27, 2009

For the second time the Picayune City Council approved a smoking ordinance.

After it is published in the Picayune Item it will go into effect 30 days later. A similar ordinance was approved earlier this year, but was rescinded for revision purposes the day it was set to take effect.

The new ordinance was set for approval at last week’s meeting, but was pushed back a week to give council members and law enforcement time to look it over. Picayune Police Deputy Chief David Ervin was asked if the department has had time to look at the ordinance. Ervin said the ordinance had been reviewed by the department and they had no problems with it.

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City Operations Manager Diane Miller said the ordinance will be available for review via the city’s website so local businesses can review it. The ordinance was approved unanimously by the present council members, which only excluded council member Leavern Guy, who arrived shortly after the matter was approved.

The only other matter on Tuesday’s agenda dealt with the city maintaining compliance with the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987. As is required by the Mississippi Department of Transportation the city council approved assigning a city representative to monitor compliance so future grant funds could be sought. Grant Administrator Barbara McGrew suggested assigning the city manager. She said the matter is routine and comes up every couple years. The council approved execution of the agreement.

After the two agenda matters were covered council members had an opportunity to address some concerns.

Council member Anna Turnage inquired about the need for traveling fairs to have permit to set up in the city. Apparently the fairs, which have been appearing in a parking lot off of Memorial Boulevard every other month, are blocking diverted traffic created by Phase II of the Memorial Boulevard Revitalization project.

McGrew said if the fair is on private property, which includes the parking lot, then they don’t need a permit. Council member Jerry Bounds said a transit permit is supposed to be required.

Turnage asked city employees to make sure the fairs are getting the proper permits.

Guy brought up two topics, baggy pants below the waist and loud parties. Guy asked City Attorney Nathan Farmer if there is a way to amend the indecent exposure ordinance to include people who wear pants below their waist. Guy also wanted to know if there was a way to require city residents to get a permit before holding a party at their homes.

Ervin said the noise ordinance adopted by the council last year does require get togethers that include a disk jockey or other loud music to acquire a permit.

Turnage asked Guy how he was planning to regulate a party at someone’s home, such as a birthday or graduation party.

Guy said, “Get a permit.”

She went on to say that when she thinks of a party she thinks of family gatherings or a back yard barbecue. Turnage asked Ervin if a permit is required if the party only involves a gathering where the noise would consist of a simple radio. Ervin said that kind of gathering probably would not require a permit under the noise ordinance.

Guy specified that he was talking about parties that involve loud music outside, such as a live band or disk jockey.

Council member Donald Parker brought up an incident where he said he was at a graduation party that ended up with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department, Picayune Police Department and Highway Patrol all showing up. Parker recalled as one officer arrived on scene he heard a shot gun being cocked. He said he knows that parties erupt in the city and at times there is a danger for the loss of life. Parker did not specify which party he was talking about.

Fire Chief Keith Brown gave the council an update on the contraflow press conference held at the Pearl River County Welcome Center Tuesday afternoon. He said the plan will go into effect the beginning of June and will allow the contraflow to go north to exit 55. If the need is there the city can also close local exits for a short period of time to allow congestion in the city to die down.

The plan also involves a state wide communication system, but the city has not yet have the proper radios on hand. Brown said the city will receive temporary radios from the state if the need arises. Also if needed 24 additional law officers will be sent to the county to assist with security and congestion needs.

Ann Bennett, the Dozier street resident who said at last week’s meeting the ditch behind her home was clogged, addressed the council Tuesday with an update. She told the council that she appreciates the help Public Works Director Chad Frierson gave her recently by clearing out the ditch in a timely manner.

The next meeting of the council will be June 2, which is also election day.