CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If you eat or drink in one of those fenced-in outdoor dining areas along Capitol Street, you can't smoke, right? It's a no-brainer.
Apparently not. Despite language in the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department's clean indoor-air regulation that specifically bans smoking in outdoor dining areas, folks have been lighting up.
So City Council members are trying to tweak the regulations they passed a year ago that govern outdoor dining in the city's central business district. The council's Planning Committee will meet Thursday night to discuss a bill introduced last week that, among other things, adds language to ban smoking.
"We thought we made that clear, but it appears some people are smoking in the outdoor dining area," said Councilman Andy Richardson, who helped draft the original rules last year.
Committee Chairwoman Mary Jean Davis said the intent is to make sure folks don't smoke in the outdoor-dining area. "People don't like to eat in those areas and have to smell the smoke."
So far, just two restaurants along Capitol Street offer fenced-in outdoor dining -- Bar 101/Ichiban and Adelphia Sport Bar & Grill. "I know Quarrier Diner [the downstairs bar] is looking at it, and Pies & Pints," Davis said.
Two other changes are in the works. Council members are planning to widen the minimum 36-inch-wide free sidewalk area between the fence and curb, and require restaurant owners to use city-supplied fences instead of putting up their own.
Dan Vriendt, the city planning director, said the fence issue came up at one of the city's department head meetings.
"I think there's a desire to have more uniform standards, in terms of the fencing," Vriendt said. "It's a little hard where we didn't allow people to attach to the sidewalk. Fences may not be as sturdy as possible.