City Council Bans the Sale of Fireworks

On December 15, 2015, the Sandy Oaks City Council banned the sale and storage of fireworks.

Before approving the ordinance regarding fireworks, the Council heard a presentation from Julio Martinez, a part owner of the Mr W Fireworks company that operates a fireworks stand at the corner of Waterwood Pass and Priest Road inside the city limits of Sandy Oaks.

The stand was moved to its location shortly after the area incorporated into a city.  Mr W Fireworks was also a campaign contributor to the Sandy Oaks Political Action Committee (SOPAC).  SOPAC included previous Mayor Jim Clement, previous Aldermen Earnest Gay and Joel Ortega.  The only current Council member in the SOPAC is Doug Tomasini, although City Clerk Charlotte Rabe is also the treasurer to SOPAC.

Julio Martinez spoke to both the City Council and the audience about why the city should continue to allow the fireworks stand to operate, saying it would help bring revenue to the city.

The City Council allowed a member of the audience, Dawn Allison, to question Martinez about the trash accumulating on the property where the Mr W stand is located and why they allow food trucks to park on the property.

When Caltheen Recio, also in the audience, began asking Martinez about his connection to politicians Mayor Micki Ball cut Recio off and told the audience that Martinez was only addressing the City Council and the presentation wasn’t open to others.

Martinez told the City Council that banning the sale of fireworks would be a financial hardship on his company because they had already bought the land, had already spent money on advertising for the location, and planned to build a bigger and more permanent structure.  “It’s a huge investment on our part” said Martinez, “We would love to have a grace period or just some way to recoup some of the funds we have lost.”

Martinez also added that Mr W had “given funds” to the city when it began.  “We support you guys, then you don’t support us.”

Mayor Ball told Martinez

I will tell you, from the city’s perspective, every other commercial enterprise, either proposed or currently in place, has come to the city ahead of installing their business, asking what the city requires.  That didn’t happen.

Martinez responded

I didn’t know we had to ask permission to open up a business.  Last time I checked this is America.

Mr W bought the land and established its fireworks stand before the first City Council was ever elected.  The city has never addressed zoning or building requirements other than agreeing on building codes established in 2006.  The city also doesn’t have permitting in place for construction of new properties, nor does the city have any laws requiring permits for construction.

Related article: Without Authority, City Council Plays Favoritism With Local Businesses

Alderman Doug Tomasini asked if Mr W was planning to place a permanent building at the location.  Martinez responded with “We would love to! We would love to have a full fledged store.”

After the presentation the Council moved to discussing the ordinance on the ban of the sale and/or storage of fireworks within the city.

Alderman David Tremblay motioned to accept an ordinance that was discussed in the November 12, 2015 City Council meeting.  The motion passed unanimously without any other discussion.

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