published Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

East Ridge fireworks rules deferred

Attendees watch fireworks at a Fourth of July celebration at Camp Jordan in East Ridge. Tennessee legislators have approved fireworks sales for East Ridge starting July 1, 2012.
Attendees watch fireworks at a Fourth of July celebration at Camp Jordan in East Ridge. Tennessee legislators have approved fireworks sales for East Ridge starting July 1, 2012.
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Proposed East Ridge fireworks regulations fizzled out Monday during a zoning meeting, as officials poured cold water on an effort to launch new building codes for rocket retailers.

The delay could cause problems for anyone wanting to open a fireworks business in East Ridge, one city official said.

At a meeting of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, member Tim Boyd successfully pressed the commission to defer judgment for 60 days until the city can revise its safety and zoning rules to accommodate fireworks retailers.

“These are explosives; these aren’t just fireworks,” said Boyd, who’s also a Hamilton County commissioner.

Commission member Jack Benson, a Chattanooga city councilman, was more blunt.

“I don’t want this agency to do anything in any way that encourages the sale of fireworks,” he said. “If they sell them in East Ridge, they’ll be shooting them in East Brainerd.”

Tennessee legislators have approved fireworks sales for East Ridge starting July 1, 2012. Currently, the city has no rules for such retailers, although East Ridge officials have said they want them to be in permanent structures, not temporary ones.

East Ridge plans to allow fireworks sales at Exit 1 off Interstate 75 and in the Ringgold Road corridor, areas that some planners say are too dense to sell bottle rockets and Roman candles.

The 60-day delay may leave developers hard-pressed to prepare new buildings in time for grand openings just before Independence Day, said Tim Gobble, East Ridge city manager.

“I won’t say it’s impossible, but it puts a little pressure on anybody who wants to build,” Gobble said.

Any new rules for fireworks stores must receive a recommendation from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission before they hit desks at the East Ridge City Council. With the 60-day delay and about a month set aside for first and second readings of any fireworks ordinances, the earliest the city could approve the rules would be at least three months away.

If regulatory delays drag on too long, retailers will be allowed to start selling fireworks on July 1 with no rules in place, said city attorney John Anderson.

Regardless of what form the rules take, Tennesseans aren’t likely to stop shooting off fireworks anytime soon, argued Commission member Bobby Scott. Residents drive long distances to purchase fireworks, then drive back home with the explosives in the car, he said.

“I think that’s a lot more unsafe than selling them out of a building designed for it,” Scott said.

Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfree or 423-757-6315.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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328Kwebsite said...

We do not want fireworks sold in East Ridge, period. This is a backstabbing deal done to make some money for a state legislator several districts away. This is unsafe, unwanted, and there will be consequences at the ballot box for those who agreed to let us get used like this.

Maybe we could have a nice, fat arson prevention tax increase on businesses to make up for the obvious increase in property destruction and bodily injury risk directly caused by this political stupidity.

I'm sure local residents love nothing more than a tax increase. I bet they can't wait to hear how this change in the law will directly cause them to pay more because it will directly cause the community more damage. Maybe the check into cash or tattoo parlor people can sell the fireworks in their stores. They've done all they could to help our appearance.

August 9, 2011 at 7:26 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

The paper can replace that grand picture of a big fireworks display with one that shows the truth: dumb, drunk ____ setting off fireworks in the middle of the night, waking us up and disturbing our sleep.

Maybe you can wheel out the picture of that sad paramedic that wanted to taunt poor minorities in the housing projects with fireworks.

Or, perhaps we can find some child burned as a result of unsupervised explosives use.

If you think selling fireworks to idiots at a gas station will be the equivalent of some illum mortars from a professional pyrotechnic company, guess again. It'll just be more annoying noise and disruptive stupidity that will eventually get someone hurt. I notice the picture accompanying the story doesn't reflect that reality.

August 9, 2011 at 7:41 a.m.
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