published Thursday, October 27th, 2011

East Ridge to vote tonight on fireworks sales ordinance

  • photo
    East Ridge City Manager Tim Gobble.
    Staff File Photo by Patrick Smith

IF YOU GO

What: East Ridge City Council meeting

When: 6:30 p.m.

Where: East Ridge City Hall courtroom, 1517 Tombras Ave.

As the East Ridge City Council prepares for tonight’s final vote that could pave the way for fireworks sales in the city, the city is making last-minute efforts to clarify the provisions of the ordinance.

“We have received a number of calls at City Hall, and council members have been getting a lot of calls from concerned residents,” said East Ridge City Manager Tim Gobble. “There seems to be some misunderstanding about the vote.”

Ordinance 901 — the city’s “fireworks ordinance” — outlines standards for retailers, addressing safety regulations, zoning requirements and the appearance and signage of the fireworks stores.

The ordinance does not actually dictate whether fireworks sales are allowed in East Ridge. That already was decided by Tennessee General Assembly, which voted to approve fireworks sales in East Ridge last May.

But that action came after all East Ridge councilmen except Jim Bethune voted Jan. 27 to approve a resolution requesting Hamilton County’s delegation to create the act, city records show.

City officials long have said that the retailers will boost sales tax revenue, while opponents have voiced worries about the safety of fireworks sales in densely populated areas like Ringgold Road.

Gobble said the ordinance calls for strict safety regulations, including required sprinkler systems and fire walls in each store.

The council approved the first reading of Ordinance 901 at a meeting on Sept. 15. No residents spoke out against the ordinance at that meeting.

Two weeks later, an alliance of residents and fireworks retailers from Marion and Bradley counties filed a lawsuit against East Ridge, challenging the constitutionality of the measure.

As of Wednesday, the city had not yet filed a response in Hamilton County Chancery Court.

Though sales of bottle rockets and Roman candles are scheduled to start in the city July 1, 2012, East Ridge officials continue to stress that actually lighting the fireworks in city limits is — and will remain — illegal.

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