East Ridge fireworks ordinance passes 1 reading

East Ridge fireworks ordinance passes 1 reading

September 16th, 2011 by Kate Belz in News

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.

Any controversy surrounding a hotly debated East Ridge fireworks ordinance seemed largely diffused Thursday night as City Council unanimously voted in its favor.

It was the first reading of the ordinance, which outlines building guidelines for fireworks retailers.

The Tennessee Legislature paved the way for the fireworks business in East Ridge after passing a bill in May. Since then, the city has been seeking to adopt a set of standards to regulate the sales.

According to the ground rules laid out in the ordinance, all fireworks must be sold in one-story masonry structures outfitted with sprinklers.

The ordinance also includes a detailed list of stipulations: The storage also must be separated by a firewall from the retail area, and fireworks cannot be displayed in a window where sunlight can heat them.

"I think this is a very stringent set of guidelines, and certainly will be the most stringent we've seen in the state," said Mayor Brent Lambert.

If the ordinance is passed on its second reading in two weeks, businesses can start setting up shops selling Roman candles and bottle rockets, Lambert said.

Though the sale of fireworks in the city has been a hotly debated topic in East Ridge for more than a quarter of a century, no one spoke out against the ordinance before the vote.

But in the front row of the council chambers, a court reporter was recording the meeting. City Manager Tim Gobble said she was not hired by the city.

Gobble said he was aware of several rumors that a group of residents was planning to file a lawsuit against the city over the sale of fireworks, but he had not confirmed any reports.