By BRIAN GRAVES
A discussion of fireworks may seem unusual at Christmastime, but that was the major item of interest during the Bradley County Commission work session Monday.Commission Chairman Louie Alford received …
A discussion of fireworks may seem unusual at Christmastime, but that was the major item of interest during the Bradley County Commission work session Monday.
Commission Chairman Louie Alford received a letter last week from Roger Loyd, president of Mid America Distributors Inc., in Lavergne.Loyd requested the county conduct "a serious review" of allowing fireworks sales in residential areas.
"Unlike the large majority of other Tennessee counties, Bradley County allows consumer fireworks to be sold in areas with no reasonable setbacks from homes," Loyd wrote.
Loyd added he was aware of one seasonal fireworks stand "that is located within five feet of an inhabited home."
The letter also cited the 2006 International Fire Code which states: "No person shall keep or store nor shall any permit be issued to keep or store, any explosives at any place of habitation, or within 100 feet thereof."
"Even if the county decides to continue to allow fireworks sales in residential zoning, the county, at the very least, should seriously consider the approval of a regulation which requires that retail fireworks sales in a tent, trailer or other structure should be at least 100 feet from a residential structure," Loyd wrote.
Alford said he did not know "if there's a heck of a lot we can do about it."
Commissioner Thomas Crye, who also serves on the county planning committee, said that subject could fall under that body's direction.
"But, I think we already have a black-and-white statute and I believe it has already been addressed," Crye said. "We don't need anything new. We just need to enforce what we've got."
Commissioner Howard Thompson said the state fire marshal issues the permits as well as the local fire department, "which has fire inspectors [who] do their job well."
"This looks to me like it has been put out by a distributor who may be wanting all of the business," Thompson said. "If there is a problem, I'm sure the state fire marshal will bring it to their attention, as will the local fire department."
"Why are we even entertaining a conversation about Bradley County from someone from Lavergne, Tennessee?" asked Vice Chairman Jeff Yarber. "I don't think what we do here is much of his business."
Bradley County EMS Shawn Fairbanks confirmed the county fire department does inspect fireworks stands.
"We keep each one of those permits that have come from the state, so we can inspect during fireworks season," Fairbanks said. "The law does state it has to be 100 feet away from a residential area."
He surmised the letter may have something to do with a particular stand on Georgetown Road.
"If it pleases the Commission and they want that done, we will follow that and do that, otherwise we will keep doing things as normal," Fairbanks said.
"He probably ought to worry about cleaning up his own town first, and we'll let Bradley County worry about what is here," Rawls added.
"I am a firm believer if the statute is erroneous it needs to be corrected," Crye said. "It is a valid statute, it needs to be enforced."
"We have local fire inspectors that can take care of that," Thompson said. "If there is something we need to correct out there, I'm sure they can get that corrected."
"There is a law and it's up to our fire department, sheriff's [office], and city police to enforce the law," Alford said. "We'll leave it at that."
Finance Commissioner Milan Blake moved to place the county's proposed commitment to the funding of Taylor Spring Park on next week's voting session.
The proposal would have the county donate $25,000 a year for four years, with funds coming from excess hotel/motel taxes after the payment on Spring Branch Industrial Park has been made.
"The funding is pretty much ready," Blake said. "And, this does not use any property tax or sales tax. The only tax that will be used will be from the hotel/motel tax."
Commissioner Charlotte Peak spoke of the volume of complaints about the new insurance plan which she had heard from county employees who live in her district.
The new plan is similar to the former one, but requires those who want to maintain a network which includes Memorial Hospital and its providers to pay $30 a month from their own pockets. The other plans are fully paid for by the county.
"It seems like the farther we go down cutting and cutting, we never get it back," Peak said. "I love the 'Cadillac policy.' I'd just about borrow money to get it back, but I understand it is very expensive and not good for taxpayers. I would like for us to look at finance for next year. I just hate that people are going to have to pay that $30 out of their pocket."
Commissioner Dan Rawls spoke of a barn fire which occurred in Blue Springs on Sunday.
"The sheriff's office and the fire department did a good job diverting traffic and getting that thing put out," Rawls said. "I appreciated the help because there is a lot of traffic on that road, especially on Sundays. Good job, guys, and I appreciate you."
The Monday, Dec. 18 voting session will be held at noon that day at the Bradley County Schools Central Office. The Finance Committee will meet immediately afterward in the county mayor's conference room at the Annex.
Those will be the final meetings for 2017, as the Commission has voted not to meet during the weeks of Christmas and New Year's.
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