The Bloomington City Council dealt with smoking last week. Not cigarette smoking but rather meat smoking, specifically smoke exhaust from barbecue grilling at the Short Stop Food Mart on Smith Road. The issue came up after the business owner asked the Council to approve an expansion of the building’s seating capacity. The smoke issue came up because the increase in seating could also mean more customers and thus more barbequeing. City Council member Marty Spechler, who represents the District where the Short Stop is located, raised the issue with the business owner, Chris Smith. Smith responded by saying that he would not be putting in more grills than he has now unless the smoker’s were indoors.
The barbecue smoke exhaust issue was not technically part of the petition before the Council, since it apparently is allowed by the current zoning for the space. This left a long-time neighbor of the Short Stop frustrated. Hank West says that he believes that the smoke is an issue and that zoning and planning conditions should be put into place.
West went on to contrast the city’s strict enforcement of the non-smoking in restaurants ordinance with its attitude toward restaurant barbecue smoke exhaust. He said barbecue smoke is considered by the EPA to be more toxic than second-hand cigarette smoke. Several council members noted the city currently has no ordinances restricting restaurant barbecue exhaust. They said it would be unfair to block the Short Stop expansion until such an ordinance is created. The Council later voted to grant the expansion of indoor seating capacity at the Short Stop Food Mart.