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City of Renville moves own tobacco ordinance forward

RENVILLE — City Council members in Renville approved the first reading Monday of an ordinance regulating tobacco sales in the community.

Two more readings are required for the ordinance to be adopted, according to Mayor Janette Wertish.

The city ordinance would replace a Renville County ordinance that prohibits the granting of licenses to sell tobacco within 1,000 feet of any school, playground, house of worship, or youth-oriented facility. Council members are concerned that the county's setback requirement would prevent two retail developments along U.S. Highway 212.

Dollar General is completing construction of a store. Casey's General Store has a purchase agreement for the Renville Antiques and Collectible property, on which it intends to build.

Mayor Wertish said the city's tobacco ordinance does not include a setback restriction and consequently would allow both of the new stores to seek tobacco licenses at their planned locations. Casey's General Store developers have told city officials that they would not go ahead with the project without a tobacco license.

The city's tobacco ordinance includes requirements for training staff and penalties for the sale of tobacco to youth. The ordinance will allow the city to increase or decrease administrative fines for violations without having to hold three separate readings, Wertish said.

She said that there was a comment made at the council meeting Monday that young people are still obtaining tobacco products despite improved compliance by stores with laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco to youth.

Council members want a city ordinance that allows for retail development but also keeps tobacco out of the hands of young people.

"We've got a young council that wants to see our town grow and develop. I totally understand that,'' Wertish said.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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