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Worth considers buffer zone for tobacco stores

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By Joe Boyle

The Worth Village Board is considering creating a buffer zone in an effort to restrict where tobacco stores can be located near schools.

While restrictions placed on tobacco stores do not have to be implemented until October, Mayor Mary Werner and the trustees discussed the issue in earnest at the Worth Board Meeting on Tuesday night.

Deputy Police Chief Cristiano Fernandez was asked by Trustee Pete Kats how often the department checks businesses that may be selling tobacco and alcohol to minors?

“We check businesses once a year,” Fernandez said. “Last year, we ticketed about a dozen businesses.”

Trustee Kevin Ryan wondered if these checks, in which designated minors go into stores to purchase tobacco or alcohol under police supervision, could be increased? Fernandez said due to current staffing issues and other responsibilities, the checks have to be limited to once a year at this time.

Kats said that if these businesses are selling tobacco to youngsters, then maybe they should not be operating in the village.

“If businesses are selling tobacco to minors, then shame on us,” Kats said.

Trustee Brad Urban said that the real issue is that some of the businesses selling tobacco in the village are in close proximity to schools.

“I have been getting complaints from residents that there are too many of these businesses,” Urban added.

Werner and board members reviewed various options that Greg Jones, the village attorney, would draw up after further discussion with the mayor and the board. One option is to create an overlay district in which tobacco sales would be allowed in a certain section of Worth but allowed not in other areas of the village.

Another option is to create a buffer zone, ranging from 500 to 1,000 feet, to keep tobacco businesses a certain distance away from local schools.

Trustee Rich Dziedzic said nearby Palos Heights has a limited number of businesses that sell alcohol.

“We don’t need 22 businesses that sell tobacco in the village,” Dziedzic said.

Urban said the Public Works Department deserves credit for outstanding work in the past week.

“We had a couple of water main breaks on the west side of town,” Urban said. “The guys are busy. You may not always see them, but I will tell you they do a great job.”

Urban added that the village now has a mini excavator that can do sewer and ditch work.

An ordinance was amended to establish a no parking zone on Depot Street between 110th Street and 111th Street. The ordinance would give Exotic Cutz, which is eyeing 6623 W. 111th St., the space needed for parking. The business still has to receive approval after renovations take place at the barber shop.

An ordinance was approved for vacating part of the Natoma Avenue right-of-way, which is located south of the intersection of 111th Street and Natoma Avenue.

The 2022-23 annual appropriation ordinance was approved for the fiscal year that began May 1 and ends April 30, 2023.

Village Clerk Bonnie Price said that a request by the Pow-R-Sertoma Club to hold their tag days on Sept. 9 and 10 along 111th and Harlem was approved.

Kats, who is the head of the public safety committee, said the Fraternal Order of Police golf outing held at Water’s Edge Golf course recently was a success.

“The golf outing was phenomenal,” Kats said. “The staff at Water’s Edge did a great job.”

Kats also mentioned that the Worth Lions Club will receive a check from the FOP from the proceeds earned at the golf outing. The club will receive the check at the next board meeting.

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