St. Charles Herald-Guide

Fireworks vote will be delayed until spring

Jonathan Menard - January 26, 2013

St. Charles Parish Councilman Paul Hogan asked the rest of the council to delay a vote on legalizing fireworks until the election of two new members.

Hogan planned for his ordinance to be voted on at the councilís Feb. 4 meeting. However, he said he was contacted by a few council members who urged him to delay the vote until two new council members have taken office in the spring.

Former Councilmen Dennis Nuss and Shelley Tastet both resigned from office in December. Julia Fisher-Perrier was chosen by the council to fill in for Nuss, while Tastetís replacement will be chosen on Monday, Jan. 28.

Because the unexpired portion of both Nussí and Tastetís terms is more than one year, the appointees will serve on the council until a special election in April. The winners of the election will serve on the council through January 2016.

Hoganís ordinance would allow the popping of fireworks from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. on July 3, July 4 and Jan. 1. Fireworks would also be 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 will remain illegal.

"I canít be the only council member getting calls to repeal the ban," Hogan said. "People need to come out to the meetings and let their opinions on fireworks become known."

While the fireworks ban has proven difficult for the St. Charles Parish Sheriffís Office to enforce due to the abundance of more serious crimes that occur around the holidays, Sheriff Greg Champagne used a special task force to combat the problem on New Yearís Eve.

That resulted in 113 citations being issued and $10,000 worth of fireworks confiscated.

When the Sheriffís Office posted a story about the citations on its Facebook page, nearly 100 angry residents complained about the enforcement. Councilwoman Wendy Benedetto, who voted against repealing the ban last year, said she took notice.

"The ordinance has been around since 1979, but I think (the citations) are bringing awareness that itís illegal to shoot fireworks," Benedetto said.

Hogan said that his planned ordinance has resulted in numerous calls to the council office.

A similar ordinance to allow fireworks was shot down in a 5-4 vote last year. Only four people showed up at the meeting to comment and all of those were in favor of keeping fireworks banned in St. Charles. However, some council members said they received multiple calls against legalizing fireworks and only a few in support of it.

Last year, council members Terrell Wilson, Tracy Fletcher, Carolyn Schexnaydre, Clayton "Snookie" Faucheux and Benedetto voted to keep fireworks banned. Councilmen Shelley Tastet, Larry Cochran, Dennis Nuss and Hogan voted for their legalization.

Fireworks vote will be delayed until spring