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1 Housing complex owners vote to ban smoking on Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:16 pm

rosco 357

Housing complex owners vote to ban smoking
My words , there is a picture of the homes on the url i did not post the pic but hit the url and u can view it,

By Julian Emerson
Leader-Telegram staff

It's not just indoor public places in Eau Claire where lighting up is prohibited. Now residents of a south side, owner-occupied housing complex will have to snuff out smoking in their homes, the most recent sign of public anti-smoking sentiment.

Members of the Fairfax Parkside Homeowners Association on Wednesday voted to outlaw smoking inside residences that are part of the 34-unit development. The ban also prohibits smoking in shared spaces, such as porches and garages, but does allow it in yards and on patios.

Of the 19 association members who voted on the issue, 15 favored the anti-smoking regulation proposed by association President Dave Hanvelt, while four argued that residents should be allowed to smoke in their homes.

"This doesn't restrict a smoker from living here," Hanvelt said of the smoking prohibition. "It just means that there are restrictions on where they can smoke."

Fairfax Parkside is believed to be the first Eau Claire development in which homeowners aren't allowed to light up indoors.

"I'm not aware of any other instances where that is the case," said Julie Marlette, coordinator of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Eau Claire County.

The adoption of the indoor anti-smoking rule likely won't impact many Fairfax Parkside homeowners, as Hanvelt said he doesn't know of any smokers in the development. But it does restrict future homeowners there from smoking, and visitors also won't be allowed to smoke inside.

"You don't want to have to worry about your non-smoking neighbor moving out and a smoker moving in," he said.

Hanvelt proposed the regulation earlier this year because homeowners in the development own twin homes, or each side of a duplex-style home. Because of their close proximity, smoke from one unit could flow into the one next door.

"If we all lived in separate units, this wouldn't have been necessary," Hanvelt said, noting homeowners association members made sure to allow outdoor smoking so as to not be too restrictive.

The Fairfax Parkside regulation marks an extension of non-smoking rules from public places to private residences. Last year the Eau Claire City Council approved a controversial ban on smoking in indoor public places, including taverns.

The issue prompted heated response from people on both sides of the issue, and opponents were concerned that the ban could open the door to prohibitions on smoking in people's homes.

Word of the smoking restriction enacted at Fairfax Parkside has some people fuming.

"We worried that this might happen, and now it appears that it has," said Sally Jo Birtzer, a nonsmoker who is president of the Eau Claire City-County Tavern League and general manager of Wagner's Lanes. "As long as tobacco is a legal product, people should be allowed to smoke it in their own homes."

While preventing smoking in privately owned homes is unusual, prohibiting the practice in rental residences isn't unheard of in Eau Claire and elsewhere. Some landlords don't allow renters to smoke indoors in an effort to keep those living quarters cleaner and to reduce the chances of a house fire.

Stomping out smoking in multifamily rental units is a growing trend in other parts of the U.S., Marlette said.

"I think people are recognizing the exposure that is occurring to secondhand smoke in multiunit housing," she said. "It is definitely a bona fide health issue, and I think we're going to see more requests for those units to go smoke free."

Dave FitzGerald, one of the Fairfax Parkside developers who also lives there, initially questioned whether the non-smoking measure would hinder future sales in an already tough housing market. But FitzGerald, a nonsmoker, said the anti-smoking rule could attract buyers too, especially given that nearly four of every five people don't smoke.

"Could we lose a sale to somebody who is a smoker? Certainly," FitzGerald said. "But I think there is a better chance of having somebody be willing to live here because there isn't any smoking."

Hanvelt knows firsthand the frustrations of living next to a smoker in a shared-space residence. He previously spent thousands of dollars at a former residence retrofitting his unit to prevent cigarette smoke from a next-door neighbor from making its way to his home, but the effort proved unsuccessful, he said.

Now he looks forward to living in a smoke-free environment.

"We adopted this for our own safety and health," Hanvelt said. "This is a very nice place to live, and we want to keep it that way."

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