Quick facts

“This is definitely kids’ day,” Asheville Mayor Leni Sitnick observed at the start of City Council’s Oct. 12 formal session: A handful of children sang in honor of the city’s proclaiming Oct. 25-Nov. 1 Earth Religions Awareness Week, and a classful of Carolina Day students swarmed her at the podium when she asked them to stand with her. The approximately 30 elementary-school children were on a government field trip, watching City Council in action and taking notes (not to mention, stifling a yawn or two).

But when Sitnick asked them to gather around her and said, “If y’all will all turn around, you’ll all be on television,” the group became exuberant, waving their hands at the camera and erupting in a chrous of “Hey, mom!”

No butts here

There has to be a better way, Council members decided on Oct. 20. Slated to consider a proposed ordinance that would require businesses to provide public cigarette-butt receptacles, Council instead postponed the discussion for 60 days.

That should be time enough for a subcommittee of business representatives from the city’s Downtown Commission to consider the proposal and, perhaps, come up with a better way to keep cigarette butts and other related debris from littering city streets and sidewalks, Council member Barbara Field noted. She voiced concern that the proposed ordinance would penalize business owners, not the people who so carelessly toss their butts.

Said Mayor Leni Sitnick, who had asked the city attorney to draft the ordinance, “I’m recommending we not vote on this tonight. … We don’t have to.” She emphasized that the proposed ordinance is an attempt to find a solution to a nagging problem. Existing litter laws cover cigarette butts, but they’re hard to enforce, because violators must be caught in the act, Sitnick noted. And butts remain a problem on public streets and sidewalks. “If anyone has ideas [on solving this problem], bring them forward,” she urged.

Help Stoner Road

A relatively new neighborhood group lobbied City Council on Oct. 12: the Stoner Road Community Club. This small group of residents, who live off Fairview Road, sent a representative to ask for help with neighborhood speeding problems, a lack of sidewalks, litter and dead trees looming over power lines and otherwise posing threats to residents. Mayor Leni Sitnick thanked the two neighborhood representatives for patiently waiting through more than two hours of public hearings and other business, in order to make their request. And City Manager Jim Westbrook immediately volunteered to meet with them and see what could be done and to direct them to the appropriate city staff members for assistance.

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About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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