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Archive for Friday, June 17, 2011

Salina’s first fireworks in years might fizzle

June 17, 2011

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— Salina residents are able to buy fireworks within city limits for the first time in 46 years, but they might have trouble finding them for the Fourth of July holiday because so few vendors have sought permits to sell the explosive pyrotechnic devices.

The city has issued only six permits to people wanting to sell fireworks, The Salina Journal reported Friday. The city voted earlier this year to allow the selling of fireworks within city limits from June 27 to July 4.

Operators say the city's zoning regulations and store owners who don't want the stands on their properties have contributed to the small number of sellers.

"The number is lower than I expected," said Ed Winebrenner, operator of Crazy Ed's Fireworks. "I had expected 10 to 12 to set up."

The city requires fireworks tents to be on properties zoned for shopping centers or larger commercial sites, be 300 feet from residential housing and have enough parking. The zoning laws were designed to allow stands to have open space to sell, said Dean Andrew, Salina's planning and zoning administrator.

Salina Fire Marshal Roger Williams said some applicants had told him that many of the big-box stores were not allowing stands in front of their stores.

"No one was turned away by the city," Williams said. "Whether spaces were available or not, I don't know."

"Everyplace down south of Cloud Street we talked to said 'no,'" Winebrenner said. "Lowe's, Central Mall and others all said, 'No, we don't want it.'"

The city's fees for fireworks stands might be keeping smaller tent owners out of the city, Winebrenner said.

An operator in Salina must pay a nonrefundable $500 application fee and $2,000 base fee for a tent of up to 1,500 square feet. Operators pay $2.50 per square foot for the square footage of tents more than 1,500 square feet. The operator of a 2,000-square-foot tent, for example, would pay a total of $3,750. Tents larger than 2,400 square feet are not allowed.

That's much higher than the $1,000 flat fee charged in Saline County, but the city has attracted twice as many fireworks stands as the county. Saline County has approved three fireworks sales permits for this year.

Winebrenner said he moved his stand to the city because of its larger population and distance people had to drive into the county. He is going to operate another stand in Assaria.

"I expect I will do a lot better than last year in the county and the larger fee will pay off for me," Winebrenner said. "It just made sense for us to put our stand in the city."

Smith, operator of K&J Crackerworks, said her Salina stand is her first in Saline County. In the past, she hasn't been charged a fee to operate a fireworks stand.

"We were happy to hear Salina legalized fireworks," Smith said. "We are excited to see how the year pans out."

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