City fireworks ban clears first hurdle

Published 10:03 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

Retail sale and residential discharge of fireworks are likely to become a thing of the past come next month.
According to the documents provided by the City of Elizabethton, an amendment to a current ordinance would make it illegal for any person, firm or cooperation to possess, manufacture, store, distribute, offer for sale, sell at retail or explode any fireworks within the municipality. During Thursday’s City Council meeting, officials voted to approve the first reading of the measure.
Elizabethton’s fire marshal has the power to permit the use of fireworks for public or private displays when all necessary provisions are met by Tennessee Code Annotated and the National Fire Protection Association. Events include shows at Elizabethton High School and Fourth of July activities.
Resident Susan Peters addressed Council members during the citizen’s’ comments portion of the meeting to show support for the repeal of the wording in the ordinance.
Peters alluded to the fact that Elizabethton is one of only five municipalities left in the state that still allows the sale and residential discharge of fireworks.
Since 2003, it has been legal in the city to have fireworks. Currently, the ordinance limited the sale of fireworks to two periods of the year, from June 20 through July 5 and December 10 through January 2.
Sentiments shared by Peters were the same as Councilman Sam Shipley, who spoke in favor of the amendment during July’s City Council meeting.
Concerns raised by Shipley included property damage, fires, bodily injury, and individuals with health problems, including post traumatic stress disorder. Shipley also stated during the meeting that July 5 was the cut off date for retail sales and residential discharge, but fireworks were still being shot following the deadline.
While citing the issue of discharge following the current legal limit, Peters added this was an issue her father fought for over the years before his passing last year.
Willie McVey, with Valley Forge Auction & Wholesale, also addressed City Council and stated he saw the reasoning for the amendment but wanted to know about how to vacate the storage of fireworks currently at the business – a stock estimated between $10,000 to $15,000.
Even though the company pays property taxes, Mayor Curt Alexander added that the other tents set up through the city are non-profit without taxes coming back in.
Following further deliberation from the Council, McVey added that while it would cost more, he could purchase sell the inventory in county limits and if the sale went accordingly that the sales would continue in the future.
Alexander stated that businesses that have already bought a permit to sell fireworks could receive a partial refund from the city if the ordinance makes it through a second reading in September.

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