Number of fireworks stands to drop in Norwalk

NORWALK - Norwalk non-profits may have a tougher time securing a permit to sell fireworks this summer but those who do get approved will be able to sell for one additional day.Starting this year, Norwalk will issue only 20 permits to sell "safe and sane" fireworks, down from 25. However, permit-holders can now sell fireworks beginning July 1. In years past, fireworks could not be legally sold in Norwalk until July 2. City officials said they recommended the changes to help non-profits increase their revenue by reducing competition. Before offering their recommendation, Norwalk officials said they surveyed six surrounding cities and found that Norwalk authorized the highest number of stands at 25, which equates to one stand per 4,222 residents. "The proposed changes would increase the number of residents per stand to 5,285 and, hopefully, also help [non-profits] generate more revenues to fund their programs and activities," finance director Jana Stuard wrote in a staff report. Council members Mike Mendez and Leonard Shryock voted against the proposal, which passed 3-2. Shryock said he had "public safety concerns" and Mendez objected to decreasing the number of fireworks stands, which organizations typically rely on as a major source of fundraising. Councilman Luigi Vernola said he would be willing to revisit the issue next year if the new system doesn't work. A random drawing decides which non-profit groups can sell fireworks. Starting this year, a representative from each group will be required to attend an orientation meeting in March, where they will hear presentations on rules, regulations and proper safety procedures. The city also removed a $50 refundable deposit that was forfeited by non-profits if they did not clean up their stand location. The $50 didn't cover the city's cost and removing the fee gives Norwalk "more flexibility" in recovering their costs going forward, officials said. Finally, the city increased the required liability insurance from $1 million to $2 million, paid for by the fireworks wholesalers: TNT Fireworks and Phantom Fireworks. Fireworks can be sold from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and all fireworks stands must be cleared by noon on July 11. Stand operators are also required to submit financial statements to the city showing how much money was raised and how the money was spent.

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43