Smoking outdoors in Secaucus may get a little tougher. The mayor and Town Council on Feb. 11 introduced an ordinance that will prohibit smoking in and outside all municipal buildings, and in all public parks and town recreation facilities.
In addition to greater restrictions on outdoor smoking, officials also passed a resolution to support the Fix Gun Checks Act, which calls on the federal government to reduce gun violence in America and help prevent future mass shootings by requiring a background check for every gun sale, among other measures.
Mayor Michael Gonnelli announced he has also joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of over 800 mayors nationwide that shares best practices, develops policies, and supports legislation at all levels to help law enforcement target illegal guns.
Hudson County Mayors Mark Smith of Bayonne, Jerramiah Healy of Jersey City, Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken, Gerald Drasheff of Guttenberg, Brian Stack of Union City, and Richard Turner of Weehawken are all listed as members.
Smoking ban spreads
A public hearing will be held on the smoke-free ordinance on March 12.
The stricter measures were prompted after local officials heard a presentation from the director of Group Against Smoking Pollution (GASP) a tobacco control and legal resource center at a previous council meeting.
GASP Executive Director Karen Blumenfeld proposed enacting smoke-free legislation and also met with county officials.
“We already had smoke-free in many of our parks. We amended [the ordinance] to add the ones that weren’t,” Gonnelli said after the meeting.
Smoking would also be prohibited within a 35-foot radius of all municipal buildings as well as inside the buildings.
If the ordinance passes, the town plans to place No Smoking signs in all restricted areas.
Any person who violates the ban shall be subject to a warning for their first offense, a fine of $25 for a second offense, and a fine not to exceed $100 for a third offense.
Measures to reduce gun violence
The mayor and Town Council passed a resolution in support of the Fix Gun Checks Act, which has been introduced in the U.S. Congress, and urged its immediate passage. The act calls for a background check for every gun sale to ensure that all criminals and other dangerous people prohibited from buying a gun are listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The act also outlines support for legislation that would keep military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines off streets, and would make gun trafficking a federal crime.
“We had all the plans in the world to take a step on that,” said Gonnelli in regard to what prompted the push for supporting gun control measures. He has the town attorney looking into a set of gun control proposals put forth by local resident Don Evanson, who has spoken out on the issue at the past three meetings.
The call for stricter gun control measures comes after the Newtown, Conn. massacre last year in which 20 innocent children were killed by a gunman in an elementary school. While the school administration, police, mayor, and council members met in December to discuss increasing security and took action within the school district, Evanson is calling for stricter control of individual gun owners who live in town.
“I believe it is something that has to happen at a higher level,” said Gonnelli. He said that he would support a local gun buyback program if funds were available, which was one of the ideas put forth by Evanson.
Fed up over bird feeders
At the council meeting this week, local resident Barbara Napierski told the council she was “livid” because for years she has alerted the town that two of her neighbors have four bird feeders each, which exceeds the local ordinance limit of one bird feeder per household.
“I feel you are violating my constitutional and civil rights by selectively enforcing this law,” said Napierski.
She said that the ordinance has been enforced on Chestnut street and Centre avenue.
“There are rodents. I now have feral cats…there are pigeons…I am tired of this,” said Napierski. She described having bird droppings that were “like snow.”
“I’d like to enjoy my property too,” said Napierski.
The discussion evolved into mayhem as Napierski engaged in shouting at Mayor Michael Gonnelli. He referenced a report from the Health Department that details a visit to the neighbor’s property and said that there will be a Board of Health hearing on Feb. 19 that she should attend. The report said that the neighbor has three empty feeders and one active feeder.
Napierski said the report was full of lies and said she was tired of the town’s “games.”
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.