Fireworks vendors found to be violating city ordinance after request from Jacksonville Speedway

By Gary Scott on March 27, 2018 at 12:21pm

A request from Jacksonville Speedway into having fireworks at an upcoming event led to the discovery that certain vendors have been violating city code with the sale of commercial grade fireworks.

During the workshop session of last night’s city council meeting, Jacksonville City Attorney Dan Beard addressed the council regarding an investigation that he and Jacksonville Fire Chief Doug Sills conducted. Beard said that he and Chief Sills began looking into the matter after officials with the Jacksonville Speedway made a request for having several small fireworks shows during the World of Outlaws race coming up in mid-April.

Beard explains what was discovered during the course of their research regarding the request.

“We came across the state statute that basically exempts the fairgrounds from having to go through the permit process for fireworks withing a municipality. In other words, the fairgrounds board itself makes the determination what is allowed on their property and is not subject to the city fireworks permit process,” explains Beard.

Beard says they also uncovered some other details regarding the sale of commercial grade fireworks, and spells out what the city’s current ordinance allows and does not allow.

“In order to sell what most people consider fireworks, cherry bombs, bottle rockets and those types of things, most of those are classified as commercial grade fireworks, the vendor must obtain a state license. The vendor must also obtain a license from the municipality pursuant to their ordinance and then the vendor can only sell to groups who have a permit to purchase and display commercial grade fireworks.Our fireworks ordinance in Jacksonville does not allow for any of those types of fireworks,” Beard explains.

As for what’s likely to happen next, Beard explains the various options that the city council has regarding the sale of fireworks. He also explains which direction it appears the council wants to go in regards to this issue.

“As a result of this and discussions with the council, the options were either to adopt an ordinance allowing the vendors to sell commercial grade fireworks and then require anyone purchasing the fireworks to obtain a permit as well, or simply leave the ordinance we have on the books, which prohibits, in effect, the sale of commercial grade fireworks. That is the direction the council has indicated they would prefer to go. As a result, we will be notifying the vendors from last year that they will not be allowed to sell commercial grade fireworks at their stands or within the city limits,” Beard says.

In terms of which vendors have been violating the city’s code, Beard says he believes there are at least two vendors that have been setting up on Morton Avenue over the past couple of years. He says those will be the vendors that the city plans to contact in regards to these issues.