Tuesday, July 18, 2017

No action taken on councilman’s fireworks complaints

By R.D. HOHENFELDT
Managing Editor/The Ozarks Almanac

Councilman Kelly Long tried again Monday night to cut down the number of days people can shoot fireworks in the city limits, but he didn’t have enough help from  other councilmen to get the job done.
“Independence Day is the fourth of July,” Long said. “Why allow it (discharge of fireworks) on July 1, 2, 3 or 5?”
Long, Ward 3 representative, has in past years tried to persuade council members to diminish the days of celebration, owing to complaints from his constituents, in particular one neighbor who goes to work at 3 a.m. weekdays.
“As my neighbor pointed out to me, July the fifth is not Independence Day,” Long said. “It (was) Wednesday.” And Wednesday was a workday for most working men and women in Rolla like the neighbor.
Long said other holidays are not extended with nuisance celebrations.
“I took my children trick-or-treating on Halloween,” he said.  That is Oct. 31, not Oct.28, 29, 30 and Nov. 1, 2 or 3.
Using sales tax figures and industry spending figures, Long presented a case that, at most, just 1,890 people bought fireworks in Rolla during the selling days allowed by city code, June 30, July 1-7.
The city code, specifically Chapter14 allows the discharge of fireworks on July 1-5.
Long said he would be willing to allow it on July 3 as well as July 4, but he indicated he wouldn’t stop there. Although he emphasized that he does not want anyone to think that he is completely opposed to discharging fireworks, he said, “My goal is to celebrate the Fourth of July on July 4 from 9 a.m. to midnight.”
There was some push-back from the mayor and other councilmen.
“People enjoy it,” said Mayor Lou Magdits IV about the discharging of fireworks on and around the fourth day of July.
Councilman J.D. Williams, Ward 5, noted that the purpose of allowing the sale of fireworks after the holiday itself is to get rid of stock inventory.
And Councilman Don Morris, Ward 4, said the sellers collect sales tax that is remitted to the city.
Councilman Long said he received complaints, in addition to his working neighbor, from pet owners and combat service veterans.
“One veteran told me that he can go to Lions Club to see the display and it doesn’t bother him,” Long said. That’s because the display is staged and the discharges are expected. The intermittent, unexpected and relentless explosions, especially at night, are disturbing to the veteran.
Regarding sales taxes collected, Long said the amount of taxes is relatively minor.
Councilman Jonathan Hines, Ward 1, said that although fireworks fans discharge the explosives for five days of the year, “there are 360 days they don’t.” He indicated that he could live with that.
But Long continued, and entered a motion to limit the sale of fireworks to July 1-4 and the discharge of them to July 3-4.
Councilman Matthew Crowell, in the discussion after the motion was entered, asked if it might be more logical to limit the sale of high-decibel fireworks rather than all of the explosives. That led to a discussion of the need for additional manpower to go into the various vendors’ tents and selling places--there were apparently six of them--and check each item.
That was judged too time-consuming and expensive.
The motion failed.
Long then attempted another motion, limiting the sale to June 30-July 5. That, too, failed to pass.
In other council action or discussion:
* The council held a public hearing and heard first reading of an ordinance that would rezone some lots from C-1 to C-3 between Faulkner and Rucker avenues, east of Bishop Avenue (U.S. 63) and south of Black Street. The rezoning would allow for the construction of an “enhanced Sonic drive-in,” said Steve Flowers, city codes enforcement officer, who presented the request from Sonic owners to the council.
Final reading and a vote will take place at the next council meeting, the first Monday of August.
* On a related ordinance proposal, first reading was heard on the vacating of Faulkner Avenue for 100-plus feet to tie in the lots fronted by Bishop Avenue with those fronted by Faulkner. This would allow a future replatting of the lots into one lot so the main building, a storage shed, a playground and volleyball court can be constructed without being separated by a street or crossing lot lots. The preliminary site plan puts a building squarely on what is now Faulkner Avenue.
* The council set aside the final reading of an ordinance to allow an agreement with the College Hills West Sewer District,
* A Complete Streets Policy was approved.
* First reading and final readings were heard and an ordinance was passed to authorize and agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation to amend the airport business plan.
* First reading was heard of an ordinance to limit parking on 11th Street between Jimmy Johns and Infuze Credit Unit.
* Fire Chief Ron Smith presented a city Life Saving Award to firefighters Dillon Barnes and Dalton Hayes for saving the life of Kent Summers at Route 66 Summerfest.

Editor’s Note: watch for more details about the council meeting here at the Ozarks Almanac/Ozarks Chronicle this week and in the first issue of the Phelps County Focus newspaper, which will be published Aug. 2.

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