How will new state law affect consumer fireworks in Crafton?
-ON THE AGENDA-
By Alice Crow
Crafton is currently investigating whether consumer fireworks should be banned in the borough because of new state law. Council members agreed to investigate whether there are any areas in the borough that would permit legal use of consumer fireworks at the Oct. 13 council meeting.
Consumer fireworks, those that can be bought and used by private citizens, can only be set off 150-feet from any structure or vehicle. Therefore, a 300-foot radius must be allocated for setting off fireworks.
Stephen Korbel, borough solicitor, again advised council that there were three options for an updated ordinance: ban consumer fireworks, allow fireworks at anytime with a permit or allow fireworks on select holidays with a permit. The current borough ordinance states that fireworks are allowed to be used at anytime with the purchase of a permit.
Korbel suggested council conduct a study to see if there are any areas in Crafton where private residents can set off fireworks. Since the borough is small, Korbel said there probably isn’t such an area where it would be legal. Mayor Coletta Perry agreed.
“The [police] chief has basically said there really is no place, as you say, that isn’t owned by the borough, where it is safe, where it is 150-feet away from any building and structure,” Mayor Perry said.
Council’s Phillip Levasseur advocated for continuing to allow residents to set off fireworks with a proper permit and instead wanted the borough to focus its efforts on law enforcement support. This would include more police use of technology, like geographic information mapping, to determine whether fireworks are being set off illegally.
Other members of council noted that such use of technology is not currently possible for police officers, who would need data-enabled tablets.
“If we want to ban them, as the chief has indicated, we have to confirm that there really isn’t a place that they can happen,” Korbel said. “I do think it’s safer to ban it if we’re able to and then it’s pretty clear to folks in the community what they can and can’t do versus just saying, ‘Come in and apply for a permit and then we’ll tell you no.’”
After some discussion, council decided to conduct the study and share results at a future council meeting before making a decision on how to update the ordinance.
The 2023 budget review process is underway in Crafton, as Mayor Perry and other members of the finance committee presented the preliminary capital expenditure budget for review. After some discussion of inconclusive numbers on the budget, Perry announced that a cleaned-up version of the expenditures budget would be presented at the next borough council meeting.
The general budget will also be discussed on Oct. 27, with the budget workshop starting at 6:30 p.m. and the council meeting following at 7:15 p.m.
The Crafton Streetscape Project is set to be completed by the end of October. Contractors recently completed the curbs and pavement installation. Currently, final work on landscaping is underway. Council also approved a motion to install eight streetlights along Crafton Boulevard, marking the final touches for the project. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the project will be held on Oct. 28.
Consultants delivered a draft diagnostics report to the borough and the steering committee for the multi-municipal zoning project. The project is a joint effort with Ingram Borough to update local zoning, which would allow an increase in business activity to the area. A recent community visioning meeting was held to gather feedback from residents.
“Comments were overwhelmingly very positive,” reported council vice president Kristen Compitello.
An updated version of the diagnostics report was made publicly available on Oct. 20. The second phase of the project will include recommended improvements to Crafton and Ingram’s zoning code. Residents can expect more public outreach and informational campaigns before the project is complete.
Alice Crow is a senior at Chatham Universty and is the editor-in-chief emeritus of Chatham’s student newspaper, the Communiqué.