Move to amend fireworks ordinance fizzles on second reading

Published 9:04 am Friday, May 10, 2024

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By Buzz Trexler

Star Correspondent

A move to allow the wholesale distribution and warehousing of fireworks within city limits turned out to be a dud Thursday night when three of the four City Council members who voted to amend the city code at April’s meeting changed their minds.

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The current ordinance prohibits the sale of fireworks within city limits but at least one unnamed business had expressed an interest in amending the code. That person failed to show up at the April meeting and was not present for the second reading.


If the ordinance change had been approved, the businesses would not be allowed to sell directly to individuals. It also required a permit at $300 and an annual inspection of each wholesale distribution operation to verify current fire codes are met.


Councilmen Kim Birchfield, Mike Simerly, Bill Carter, and Mayor Curt Alexander voted in favor of amending the ordinance on first reading during April’s meeting, while Richard M. Barker, Wes Frazier, and Jeffrey C. Treadway voted against the change.


Simerly moved to approve the ordinance amendment on second reading Thursday night, while Carter seconded the motion.


At the onset of considering the ordinance, Elizabethton resident Susan Peters addressed council members, citing incidents involving fireworks storage facilities. “In the past 10 years there have been quite a few accidents throughout the country, some with severe injuries and fatalities,” Peters said, including some in Tennessee.


As the discussion followed, Mayor Curt Alexander expressed frustration that a business owner who pushed for the change was not at either public meeting, noting that he had cast the deciding vote to move the proposed change to a second reading “with the sole purpose of the people that were interested in doing this could come forward and answer some questions.


“I have repeatedly asked that individual to be here and obviously they are not here this evening,” Alexander said. “So that continues to be my frustration in regard to these changes.”


Councilman Jeffrey C. Treadway said he voted against the measure on the first reading and remained opposed to the change. One thing that informed his decision, Treadway said, was a comment by Elizabethton Fire Chief  Barry Carrier that a similar business does not exist in the city.


“It’s going to be new to us to enforce and it’s just another hazard I don’t think we need,” Treadway said.


Council members unanimously rejected changing the current ordinance.

Councilman Kim Birchfield was absent.