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Niagara County Legislature removes sparkler law from agenda

LOCKPORT – A proposed law that would legalize the sale of sparklers in Niagara County has been removed from the agenda for Tuesday’s County Legislature meeting, and it was unclear when it would be voted on, if ever.

“When and if it comes back is up to the sponsors,” Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, said Monday.

It was apparent that the proposal – sponsored by Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport; Anthony J. Nemi, I-Lockport; and John Syracuse, R-Newfane – lacked the necessary eight votes for passage, at least for now.

“We’re pulling it with the expectation that it will be revisited at some point,” Updegrove said. “Legislators in my caucus wanted to give constituents a longer period for feedback.”

He said the two sides of the issue had mentioned studies about the impact of legalization of fireworks on fires and injuries that some members wanted a chance to read.

The law would allow retail stores to sell sparklers and other small fireworks, such as “party poppers” and “snappers,” between June 1 and July 5 and from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2.

It was unanimously and loudly opposed by the county’s fire departments, both professional and volunteer, while a public hearing at the Feb. 17 Legislature meeting drew no support from the general public. The only speakers in favor of the proposal were two representatives of the fireworks industry from out of state.

Ross, a board member of the New York State Association of Counties, said he’s heard of only four or five counties that are considering legalization so far.

Monday, Essex County, in the Adirondacks, became the first in the state to legalize sparkler sales, with a unanimous vote by its Board of Supervisors.

Locally, the Wheatfield Town Board, after hearing from one of the town’s volunteer fire chiefs, last week passed a motion to write a letter to the County Legislature opposing the legalization of sparklers.