Chelsea discusses alcohol, smoking ordinances

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The city of Chelsea Ordinance Committee held a public hearing Monday night to give residents an opportunity for comment on three proposed ordinances.

The ordinances would impose guidelines on the sale of alcohol inside city limits, the use of four-wheelers and golf carts on city-owned streets and limitations for smoking on city property.

A proposed ordinance to govern the sale of alcohol within the city would limit the amount of alcohol sales a business could conduct to 25 percent of its total gross receipts. The law would also require businesses to file biannual reports to the city clerk.

The ordinance came under fire from a local restaurant owner who said he is worried that the new restrictions would deeply hurt his business.

Norman Saia, who owns Papa Saia&8217;s Pizza restaurant in Chelsea, opened his business a month and a half ago in the city.

&8220;We&8217;ve invested a lot of time and money into this restaurant,&8221; he said. &8220;Judging on these percentages, our business would just not be able to work.&8221;

Saia, who also owns Alabaster&8217;s Papa Saia&8217;s, said his average percentage of alcohol sales makes up about 40 percent of his business.

&8220;I&8217;ve been in this business for a while now,&8221; he said. &8220;There&8217;s no way a restaurant could make a profit with that restriction.&8221;

Following Saia&8217;s comments to the committee, Mayor Earl Niven advised that the issue be revisited.

The committee also examined a proposed ban of golf carts and four-wheelers on city roads. City clerk Bob Wanninger, who heads the committee, said the law was necessary as a safety precaution.

&8220;We have people running through other people&8217;s yards and speeding up and down streets,&8221; Wanninger said. &8220;It&8217;s just not safe.&8221;

The final ordinance would ban smoking on city property, except in designated smoking areas.

&8220;I think it&8217;s appropriate that the city lead by example on this issue,&8221; Niven said. &8220;We would like to see other businesses in the city do the same thing.&8221;

Niven noted, however, that he does not foresee the city restricting smoking in public places anytime soon.

&8220;I would love for individual businesses to make that choice for themselves,&8221; he said. &8220;But I&8217;m not for the city enforcing any sort of law restricting smoking in private businesses.&8221;

Wanninger said no decision had been made on where the designated smoking areas would be located.

Niven said the smoking ordinance would likely be voted on during the Chelsea city council meeting Tuesday night while the four-wheeler and alcohol ordinances still needed work before they could be considered