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Westmoreland Supervisors ‘no’ CrackerJacks Fireworks Club request for Colonial Beach

CrackerJacks Fireworks Club will not be holding its three-day fireworks and gun shooting event next week on the Colonial Beach Dragway property. Residential neighbors on Longfield Road and members of the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors agreed during the Board's October 10 meeting that so much noise over an extended period would not be acceptable.

CrackerJacks Fireworks Club was represented by Daniel Clark during the Wednesday night proceeding in A.T. Johnson auditorium. Clark said he advised Westmoreland's local government authorities of the club's intentions during the first weeks of August and was advised of the jurisdiction's fireworks permitting regulations. He said the dragstrip was selected as the event location "because it's noisy place already."

When it became clear that the Board was unlikely to approve the requested noise ordinance waiver, Clark advised that consequences would be dire.

"A lot of money is invested in this thing," he told the Westmoreland County Supervisors.

"This would be the end of the Club. We can't afford to take a financial hit like this!

"I contacted the county during the first part of August, trying to find out the proper procedures (for obtaining requisite permits). It took a month or so to figure out what to include in the letter and your permitting for fireworks is extensive."

County Administrator Norm Risavi related that he was advised of the Club's intentions "a day or two before I received the email" transmitted by Clark on September 24 and reported in the October 10 edition of The Journal.

"During a conversation, the Colonial Beach Town Manager had mentioned something about Cracker Jack, but I didn't know what Cracker Jack was," the County Administrator additionally explained.

"The bottom line is you have to fill out an application," Risavi then told the noise ordinance waiver applicant.

Planning and Community Development Director Robert Fink told the Supervisors that the expectation in Westmoeland County is that an application for a noise ordinance waiver will be processed in thirty

days. Noise ordinance waivers are customarily processed administratively, but the CrackerJacks request was forwarded to the Board of Supervisors because of the unusually long duration of the proposed event.

"The Land Use Office was contacted during the month of August, but at that time our office had no idea of the scope of the proposal," Fink told the members of the Board. "When the request was initially discussed, the county didn't understand the full nature of what was being proposed. This is the first time the Board has met since the application was received," he additionally explained.

Board Chairman Darryl Fisher characterized the timing as "unfortunate and County Administrator Norm Risavi immediately concurred.

"If we had had more notice, we could have tried to direct you to someplace where the event would be less disruptive."

District 4 Supervisor Woody Hynson opined that a plowed 200-acre field would be idea. When residents from Longfield Road and Westmoreland County Citizen's Association President Kennon Morris suggested that the Club explore the possibility of utilizing the O'Gara Group's training facility, county officials related that the accommodation would interfere with ongoing training on that property.

All Board members except District 5 Supervisor Larry Roberson voted to reject the noise ordinance waiver application. Roberson then presented a motion subsequently adopted by unanimous vote that tasks County Administrator Risavi with assisting CrackerJacks' effort to find an alternative location for the October 25-27 event.

"We can't guarantee Mr. Risavi will find somebody willing to say yes," Roberson told Clark.

"The event is scheduled for next Thursday," Clark protested. Risavi agreed to spend the morning of October 11 attempting to deliver the accommodation, but the County Administrator appeared distraught.

"Personally, I don't think it's going to work," was Risavi's final word to the CrackerJacks representative and the members of the Board.

 

By Betsy Ficklin

 

 

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