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Fireworks law not sparking much response in Hall
Flowery Branch, Clermont only governments to make ordinances
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Local response to a new state fireworks law is, so far, a dud.

Clermont and Flowery Branch are the only Hall County governments that have crafted ordinances addressing the law, which takes effect July 1.

Officials with Gainesville, Hall County, Oakwood, Lula, Gillsville and Braselton said they have nothing planned, at least at this point.

“The newly adopted law is in its infancy, (so) we believe the actual cost to the community should be explored as it relates to licensing before adoption,” Lula City Manager Dennis Bergin said.

However, he added, Lula City Council “should discuss this matter in-depth in the coming months. We certainly can learn as other communities begin to adopt ordinances in what works and what issues are still vague.”

Kip Padgett, Gainesville’s city manager, said he hasn’t looked at the new state law, but the city “may need to look at an ordinance based on that.”

“We would look to our fire department and fire marshal’s office for direction,” he said.

Katie Crumley, Hall County’s spokeswoman, said Hall Fire Services staff has been attending meetings and training sessions this week to learn more about the state guidelines associated with the law.

But nothing is planned for an upcoming Board of Commissioners meeting.

Flowery Branch elected officials are considering an ordinance that would allow for the sale of fireworks under the city’s zoning code.

“Flowery Branch, in the interest of the health, safety and welfare of our citizens, and the explosive nature of the product, has decided to put these stores that are exclusively consumer fireworks into the … light manufacturing and industrial zoning classification,” City Planner John McHenry said.

He pointed out certain areas along Gaines Ferry Road, Atlanta Highway and Thurmon Tanner Parkway that have that zoning designation. This would exclude the portions of the city zoned for highway business, including the Stonebridge Village shopping center where Target and Kohl’s are located.

Certain retail establishments are in the light manufacturing and industrial zoning class; McHenry gave the example of a Papa John’s Pizza restaurant, located on Atlanta Highway.

A first reading of the ordinance was approved at the council’s Thursday meeting. A second vote is expected during a called meeting at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Clermont’s ordinance, which is tentatively set for final OK Thursday night by its Town Council, basically requires those wanting to put on a pyrotechnic display in a public park to apply for a permit, citing time, location and other particulars.

In mulling such applications, the town council would consider a variety of factors, including “the potential for fires or wildfires” and previous experience handling fireworks, the ordinance states.

“And in its discretion, based upon these factors, (the council will) grant or deny the issuance of a special use permit,” which would cost $100 if approved.

The ordinance, which could come up later in the month for a vote, also allows for the sale of fireworks at temporary stands.

Applications must be submitted to Hall County Fire Services, which has a station at 6012 Hulsey Road, off U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway.

Licenses, which are good for 90 days, will “only be issued to licensed distributors where the sale of consumer fireworks from (temporary stands)” benefits a nonprofit group.

“A nonprofit group benefiting from the sale ... shall directly participate in operating (the stand),” the ordinance states.

Also, no temporary licenses can be issued before Jan. 1.

The ordinance additionally allows for a licensed distributor to operate a permanent consumer fireworks retail business.

Carly Sharec contributed to this report.