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County extends ban on fireworks

The Pasco County Commission also expands the restrictions to include the sale of fireworks for private use.

By ALISA ULFERTS

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 14, 2000


DADE CITY -- One weekend punctuated by afternoon showers was not enough to persuade Pasco County commissioners to lift a ban on the sale of fireworks.

Commissioners extended the ban another 72 hours -- the maximum extension -- on Tuesday night, saying tinder-dry conditions could spark wildfires throughout much of the county.

"We're not doing it on a weekly basis; we're doing it on a 72-hour basis, and I think that's fair," said commission Chairwoman Pat Mulieri.

Commissioners already had a ban on the use of fireworks in place last week when they expanded that to include the sale of fireworks. The ban lasted only seven days, after which it can be extended in 72-hour increments. If the commission cannot meet every three days, responsibility for continuing the ban falls to Mulieri.

Members of the fireworks industry have threatened to sue counties that enact bans. The Galaxy Fireworks Co. brought both a lawyer and a court reporter to Tuesday's commission meeting.

But commissioners decided that the threat of wildfires -- one burned several hundred acres off State Road 52 near Moon Lake Road last week -- was greater than the threat of litigation.

Commissioners also ignored the advice of County Attorney Robert Sumner and on Tuesday expanded their ban to sales of fireworks for private use. Sumner wanted them to drop the proposed ban or delay at least a week to hold a public hearing.

Commissioners also scheduled a special meeting for 9:30 Friday morning to discuss whether to continue the ban to another 72 hours. The meeting will be held at the government center in Port Richey.

- Staff writer Alisa Ulferts covers Pasco County government. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6244 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6244. Her e-mail address is ulferts@sptimes.com.

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