Vapor from e-cigarettes. Loud music. Seasonal liquor licenses.
The Alexandria City Council is in the process of changing the rules for all three of those topics and wants feedback from residents.
At its Monday meeting, the council agreed to schedule a public hearing to consider a local clean indoor air policy that would include the state's regulations of e-cigarettes. It would prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in bars, restaurants, workplaces and other locations in the city.
Right now, 22 counties and 30 cities in Minnesota have added e-cigarettes to their air policies, including several in the west central region such as Moorhead, Perham and Fergus Falls.
"This would be a significant change to existing city policies and regulations," noted City Administrator Marty Schultz.
The council will also hold a public hearing to consider an amendment to the city's tobacco licensing ordinance to bring it into compliance with new federal regulations that prohibit free sampling of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes in stores that sell the products.
Stores can only offer samples if they charge a fee.
No date for the hearings were set yet. They will take place at least 45 days from Monday's meeting so the city has enough time to notify e-cigarette license holders and the public.
The council is also considering a crackdown on late-night noise - specifically outdoor music coming from speakers or live bands.
Council member Todd Jensen said the city has been dealing with the complaints for two or three years and he made a motion, which was unanimously approved, to schedule a first reading to amend the city's noise ordinance.
The change would prohibit outdoor music originating from a property that's audible from any public right-of-way or road after 11 p.m.
The city has received a few calls in recent summers about loud outdoor music coming from restaurants late in the evening, Schultz said, and the city's current noise ordinance has outdated terminology for dealing with the complaints.
The goal of the amendment would be to clarify situations for police when they're called out on a noise complaint.
No date for the first reading was set. Before it takes place, city staff will get input from restaurant owners who have previously expressed their views about noise complaints. A second or final reading would be required for the new rules to take effect.
Another public hearing will be held to consider a change to seasonal on-sale liquor licensing. It would create the option for six- and nine-month seasonal licenses.
Seasonal on-sale license holders would have to choose one of the options, which carry fees of $1,800 and $2,700, or go with an annual license. Right now, the fees are prorated based on how many months the license covers.
Other lengths of time would be allowed only for new on-sale liquor licenses that open earlier or later in the year.
Renewals of seasonal on-sale licenses would take place in the same November-December time frame as annual on-sale license renewals. This would smooth out the process by having everyone apply at the same time of the year and having one public hearing for all the license requests.