Moriarty defends firework laws

Posted at: 07/03/2013 7:18 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

You can buy the fireworks, but you’re banned from shooting them off.

The city of Moriarty is defending its decision not to enact an ordinance banning more fireworks.

The mayor says the community has to balance between fire safety and business.

While the city of Moriarty restricts the use of some fireworks within the city, it does not ban the sale of fireworks that are banned in Moriarty or other drought-stricken New Mexico communities like Albuquerque.

KOB Eyewitness News 4 asked Moriarty Mayor Ted Hart, why?

“These stands employ 40 to 50 people each,” he said. “They produce income for the community and the state."

Current ordinance bans missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners, stick-type rockets and ground type audible devices within the city limits.

The city estimates its fireworks vendors, including two year-round sellers, each bring in up to $400,000 in gross revenue. The city gets 2 1/2 % of that.

Hart also estimates 60% of the fireworks sold at permanent fireworks stands don’t stay in New Mexico; qualifying as a tourism sale.

Fireworks stores and tents get a lot of interstate traffic.

Fire Chief Steven Spann says permanent fireworks businesses should be checking IDs to ensure the people buying fireworks are out-of-state residents.

Spann says the entire department will be on hand on Thursday in case of a fire.

"They should be checking it but for us to verify that, they could tell us numbers but it would be impossible to verify,” said Spann.

Asked what he thinks of people asking why Moriarty isn’t like almost every other community in New Mexico putting the fire danger, ahead of business, Hart responded:

“They're a business just like any other type of business. You can't smoke in certain stores. I think it's banned throughout the state but yet you can go into any store and purchase them. You can smoke in your car, you can flick the cigarette out your window and starts fires so I mean it's a balance that we all have to come and live with."

The mayor says he doesn’t see the city revisiting an ordinance.

Hart says change should really come from the state.

Both Hart and Spann support Governor Susana Martinez’s failed effort to impose a statewide ban on fireworks during extreme drought.

For now, Hart hopes people buying at stores in Moriarty only buy whatever is legal in their community.