County Council OKs fireworks ban, 3-1

Sale and possession of ground-displayed sparklers are prohibited

April 08, 2003|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

Howard County joined three other Baltimore-area communities in prohibiting the sale and possession of ground-display fireworks after the three Democratic councilmen voted in favor of the ban at last night's County Council meeting.

The 3-1 vote came after an amendment proposed by Councilman Allan H. Kittleman to restrict the sale of ground sparklers to those over age 18 was rejected. The western county Republican registered the only vote against the ban. Ellicott City-Elkridge Republican Christopher J. Merdon was absent.

"I think we shouldn't be the parents of everyone in Howard County," Kittleman said after the meeting. Parents should take responsibility for their children, particularly with fireworks that are "not aerial, not exploding," he said.

In 2001, the General Assembly relaxed its laws prohibiting ground sparklers. Until that point, only the hand-held variety and poppers, which eject confetti or paper snakes, were permitted.

Fire officials throughout Maryland were apprehensive about the ramifications of relaxing statewide regulations, especially after four teen-agers set a Harford County house ablaze around the Independence Day holiday last year by tossing a lighted sparkler into bushes outside the building.

Guzzone offered bill

North Laurel-Savage Democrat Guy Guzzone introduced the county legislation, co-sponsored by his two Democratic colleagues, because of evidence of the underage purchase of the fireworks, as well as complaints in Columbia's Owen Brown village, where fireworks were sold from a tent last summer.

"We unfortunately saw, particularly in my district, a problem" with the legalization of these fireworks, Guzzone said.

Baltimore City as well as Montgomery and Prince George's counties also ban the sale and use of ground sparklers.

Before the County Councli meeting began, the Howard County Coalition Against War presented council members with the signatures of more than 1,000 people urging the council's passage of a resolution against United States military action in Iraq.

The coalition, composed of social-action and religious groups, had begun lobbying the council to introduce a resolution several weeks before the conflict in Iraq erupted, hoping to provide a forum for county residents to air their views. But no councilmen agreed to introduce the resolution.

`For the record'

"At this point, it's mostly a statement that we want to leave for the record that we have tried and our efforts were not reflected by our representatives in the county," said Leslie Salgado of the Howard County Friends of Latin America before the meeting. The group is a member of the coalition.

About 15 people, many wearing bumper stickers reading "War is not the answer" on their chests, gave Salgado a standing ovation after she addressed the council.

At the meeting, the council also introduced a bill that would increase from 20 to 50 the minimum number of units required for housing to qualify as age-restricted complexes.

A public hearing on that and other bills introduced last night will be held April 21.

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