• Permits needed for backyard shows this Fourth
    By Amy Ash Nixon
     | June 03,2014
     

    MONTPELIER — The city’s first-ever fireworks ordinance, imposing stipulations including a certain distance from other properties and a pre-show visit by a firefighter, will be in effect for the Fourth of July.

    The City Council approved the ordinance last week with the support of all members except Justin Turcotte. It goes into effect June 13, said City Manager William Fraser.

    A last-minute stumbling block arose several weeks ago, when a resident objected to having the city’s attorney review the proposed ordinance for final editing, identifying him as one whose fireworks shows are a source of problems.

    The resident said at a public hearing that still-burning fireworks from the attorney’s annual show had landed in her and several other neighbors’ yards.

    The council quickly agreed to have a different attorney review the changes and final language for the ordinance, which came to the council Wednesday. Fraser said, “There were no major changes from last time, just some minor word tweaking” after the review by Glenn Howland from Rice & Riley.

    The ordinance defines fireworks as “any combustible or explosive composition, or any substance or combination of substances or article prepared for the purpose of producing a visible or an audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration or detonation, including blank cartridges, toy pistols, toy cannons, toy canes, or toy guns in which explosives are used, balloons that are propelled by explosives, firecrackers, torpedoes, sky rockets, Roman candles, cherry bombs, or other items of like construction and any such items containing any explosive or flammable compound, or any tablets or other device containing any explosive substance, except sparklers.”

    Fireworks cannot be discharged within 150 feet of any building, street or public area unless directly supervised by a person holding a permit to do so. The ordinance addresses specifically the concern that several residents took to the fire chief: that “fireworks shall not be discharged in such a manner so that debris can land on another person’s property.”

    A person must be 21 years old to obtain a fireworks permit from the city. A permit must be sought 15 days before a planned fireworks event, and a staff member of the Montpelier Fire Department must make a site visit before a permit can be issued. All fireworks shows will have to end by 10 p.m.

    Violating the ordinance may result in an administrative order for the immediate termination of the event, and a civil penalty of up to $500. Violators also might not be allowed a permit in the future.

    Some confusion existed at first about the effective date of the ordinance, because of a change made to the city charter this year.

    “It was very good news that it was passed, but then there was a bit of a setback when I learned that it takes 30 days to be in effect,” said Ann Burcroff, one of the residents who had complained about fireworks landing on her roof and her yard.

    “The new ordinance should eliminate the problem because of the distance and the requirement that fireworks come down in the same property they are set off from. They can’t come down in someone else’s yard. That should be common sense ... but now it’s in writing,” Burcroff said Monday. “It’s up to the fire chief not to give a permit or to enforce any illegal fireworks.”

    @Tagline:amy.nixon @timesargus.com

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