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Council shoots down law legalizing fireworks, 5-4

By Jonathan Menard -   Mar 29, 2012

A proposal that would have allowed residents to pop fireworks four days a year was shot down in a 5-4 vote by the St. Charles Parish Council on Monday.

Councilmen Paul Hogan and Dennis Nuss co-sponsored the ordinance, which would have allowed the popping of fireworks from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. on July 3, July 4 and Jan. 1. Fireworks would have also been allowed from 10 a.m. on Dec. 31 until 1 a.m. on Jan. 1.

Under the ordinance, the sale of fireworks inside the parish would have remained illegal.

Before the vote, Hogan said that fireworks are an American tradition and that plenty of residents shoot them despite the ban. Limiting the days and times of their usage would decrease the annoyance factor for those against fireworks, he said.

Sheriff Greg Champagne has said that current fireworks ban is extremely difficult to enforce. He said that last New Yearís Eve, his patrolling deputies were called to deal with crimes such as a hit and run, domestic violence, a car wreck, burglaries and even a missing persons case.

Deputies must also catch someone in the act of shooting fireworks to issue a citation because Champagne said that most of the noise complaints his office receives come from anonymous callers.

Nuss said the reason he co-sponsored the legislation is that he would rather deputies focus on those crimes instead of having to worry about fireworks complaints.

However, all four residents that spoke at the meeting were against lifting the ban.

Carolyn Tregre, from Luling, said that fireworks can set fire to homes and businesses and have been known to maim people. She said that while some residents may shoot fireworks now, lifting the ban could result in 12,000-15,000 people shooting the pyrotechnics.

"Thatís when the problems start," she said.

Other residents echoed those sentiments, saying that many homes in neighborhoods are too close to allow fireworks to be shot safely.

Parish President V.J. St. Pierre also said that he is against fireworks and that he received 11 emails and two calls from residents who did not want the parish to lift the ban.

But Councilman Larry Cochran added that he spoke to six fire chiefs in the parish who were in favor of the ordinance.

Council members Terrell Wilson, Tracy Ackerman Fletcher, Carolyn Schexnaydre, Clayton "Snookie" Faucheux Jr. and Wendy Benedetto voted against the measure.

Councilmen Shelley Tastet, Cochran, Nuss and Hogan voted for it.

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