West Lafayette City Council approves mask mandate unanimously, updates carbon emissions resolution

The council approved the use of fines in the mask mandate unanimously in two separate readings. They also approved some language clarification in the carbon emissions reduction resolution passed last year.

Posted: Sep 8, 2020 11:16 PM
Updated: Sep 8, 2020 11:32 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The West Lafayette City Council made several important votes in its meeting on Tuesday. The council unanimously voted in favor of Mayor John Dennis' mask mandate.

As we've previously reported, Mayor Dennis made the executive order on July 13th. That was just nine days before Governor Eric Holcomb joined many states in issuing a statewide mask mandate. On July 28th, West Lafayette man Michael Bryant filed a lawsuit against the city and Mayor Dennis saying the mandate is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit went before Tippecanoe County Judge Sean Persin last week. He ruled that the fines aspect of the mandate needed approval by the city council. The mandate says people can be fined up to $250 for not obeying.

The council read the ordinance twice at its meeting and got unanimous approval both times. Mayor John Dennis said he is grateful to have gotten the votes.

"It shows that it's not just me saying you've got to wear your mask," he said. "It's our local government in support of making sure that our city stays as healthy as possible."

He praised how far city leaders have come along during his tenure as mayor in terms of coming together as a united front on the important issues that matter. 

He also acknowledged that not everyone is in favor of this decision. He said he did hear from people who made it very clear to him that they are not in support of the mask mandate, but he said this is what he feels is best for greater good and greater health of West Lafayette.

"I was so thrilled to see our council pull 100% to make sure that this is on the books, that it's enforceable and that it does have punitive measures attached to it," he said.

This mandate gives Neighborhood Resource Team members and local police the authority to give the tickets. Anyone who does get a fine can contest it in the city court. Mayor Dennis said they can also give out warnings. So far, no tickets have been given out.

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The city council also approved some modifications to the language in the carbon emissions reduction resolution. This resolution was passed last year.

It pledges to reduce emissions by twenty percent by 2022 with a goal of further reductions of twenty percent every four years after. The ultimate goal is to reach carbon neutrality by 2038.

Mayor Dennis said they have been collecting important data over the year that will set the groundwork. He said no stone will be left unturned when finding ways to reduce West Lafayette's carbon footprint.

"We're looking at traffic flow, we're looking at parking, we're looking at standing cars, we're looking at intersections, we're looking at anything that you could think of where there might be an exhaust pipe, smoke stack or just irresponsible behavior," he said.

He said this plan has the future generations of West Lafayette in mind.

"The people who are in college and high school now are getting the responsibility of cleaning up this mess and hopefully my grandson will be one who benefits from having an environment that he can live, work and play in without any fear." he said.

Mayor Dennis and Councilman David Sanders expressed their gratitude to the people of all ages who have voiced support for this resolution: from local high schoolers, to Purdue students to established community members.

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