Herald American

Norwalk amends rules on fireworks

NORWALK — Owners or renters will be held responsible for the use of illegal fireworks on their properties and subject to a citation under an ordinance amendment given final approval May 1 by the City Council.

It will take effect May 31, City Clerk Theresa Devoy said.

The ordinance was one of four items in the consent calendar approved by 5-0 votes with no comment from the council or the audience.

In a written report, Deputy City Manager Kevin Gano said the amendment will make it easier to enforce laws against illegal fireworks. Currently an individual can’t be cited unless he or she is seen by officers setting off the illegal firework.

In another report to the council, Devoy noted that the ordinance was introduced April 17.

“It will amend the Norwalk Municipal Code to hold owners and tenants of private property responsible for the unlawful use, discharge, possession, storage and sale of dangerous fireworks on their property,” she said.

She recalled that the original law was approved Jan. 4, 2011. It introduced the use of administrative citations for the enforcement of all fireworks violations identified in Chapter 5.36 of the Norwalk Municipal Code.

Since that time, a total of 253 administrative citations have been issued around the Fourth of July to individuals who were in violation of fireworks regulations within the city of Norwalk, Gano said in a report April 17.

“Public safety officers and sheriff’s deputies face many challenges in their ability to enforce fireworks violations,” the report said. “In order to issue a citation for fireworks violations, officers and/or deputies must physically observe the violation.

“For example, an individual must be seen lighting, holding, or in possession of illegal fireworks in order for a citation to be issued.

“Often, individuals will discharge fireworks in the street and leave the area, or not claim ownership of the materials when public safety officers or sheriff deputies respond to the location.

“Large crowds and/or parties discharging illegal fireworks from backyards and lighting illegal fireworks in between the use of [legal] fireworks also provide coverage for an individual to set off illegal fireworks without being observed by law enforcement.

“These situations provide challenges to public safety and law enforcement in enforcing violations associated with illegal and/or dangerous fireworks,” Gano said.

Under the new ordinance, individuals would be subject to administrative citations and fines including:

  • The person who owns, rents, leases or otherwise has possession of the premises.
  • The person with immediate control of the premises.
  • And the person who organizes, supervises, sponsors, conducts, allows, controls or controls access to the illegal discharge or illegal storage of fireworks.

“A proposed increase in administrative citation fines is anticipated to help deter individuals from violating fireworks regulations,” Gano said.

In other action May 1, the council announced a special meeting at 6 p.m. May 8 to discuss details of a citywide trash hauling agreement with Athens Disposal, Devoy said.

Officials had announced April 17 they would  go with CR&R as the city’s trash hauler, but at a special meeting April 20 staff reported that in final negotiations the Orange-County based firm changed its position and requested that the contract be extended to 15 years, beyond its original eight-year proposal in return for lower rates to residents.

Officials then set a special meeting for April 24 to final arguments from CR&R and Athens after City Manager Jesus Gomez said CR&R did not follow instructions concerning the contract requirements.

At the April 24 meeting council reviewed final arguments and went with Athens on a 4-1 vote with Councilman Leonard Shryock dissenting.

CR&R had offered a monthly rate to residents of $16.59 to $15.75 for Athens. Both rates are less than the current residential rate for weekly pickups of $20.79.