SOUTHINGTON – The Southington Town Council voted Monday night to update its smoking ordinances to prohibit smoking marijuana, as well as smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol, in town parks and on public properties.
Town Manager Mark Sciota said the council’s vote on the matter was unanimous. The ordinance was initially proposed by councilor Paul Chaplinsky.
“We do not want to have a situation in our parks and public spaces where children are exposed to tobacco or marijuana,” Sciota said. “We are now working with our Police Department to figure out the best way to put up signage at parks and other town-owned areas. The goal is not to serve tickets, but to educate the public that this activity is not permitted in these spaces. We don’t anticipate that there will be a lot of fines issued.”
Town Councilor Tom Lombardi said the town had existing ordinances prohibiting smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol in these public spaces.
“We just added in recreational marijuana, now that it has been legalized in Connecticut,” he said. “I think it’s a good ordinance to put on the books. We want to make it clear to residents that our parks and public spaces are not the place for smoking and drinking alcohol and that includes marijuana.”
Lombardi said the council emphasized Monday night that this new ordinance does not restrict people’s personal freedoms to smoke or drink if they choose. It just prevents from being done on town parks and properties.
The state legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 or older on June 1 of last year. Since then, some local communities have been establishing ordinances related to the sale of marijuana within their municipalities. Many have also established ordinances prohibiting the smoking of marijuana in certain public places.
Southington’s new policy falls in line with many in area communities.
Bristol’s ordinances ban the smoking of marijuana in parks and other recreational spaces. In New Britain, the city also voted to restrict smoking marijuana on city property this January. Plymouth passed a similar ordinance this April.
The following is the exact language of the new ordinance:
“No person shall use, carry or smoke a lighted cigarette, cigar, cigarillo, pipe, or powered-onvaporizer device, or use cannabis-type substance including marijuana, as defined in Connecticut General Statutes Section 21a-240, in any form in or upon any building, park, playground, recreation area, athletic facility, trail, lake or area of assembly owned, leased or controlled by the Town of Southington as may be specifically designated by the Southington Town Manager; provided however, that signs are posted in the area such as to reasonably warn persons that the area is subject to this No Smoking ordinance.
Penalties for offenses.
Violation of this chapter shall constitute an infraction as defined in Connecticut General Statutes 51-164n and/or may be punishable by a fine of not more than $90 pursuant to the Citation Ordinance of the Town of Southington.
Members of the Southington Police Department shall be charged with the enforcement of this chapter and may issue a warning or a citation under the Southington Citation Ordinance.
Additionally, agents and employees of the Town of Southington and coaches or officials participating in any athletic event in or upon any Town-owned athletic or recreation facility are authorized to enforce this chapter through the exclusion of the violator from the athletic event or recreational facility.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806