By Rosemary K. Otzman
The Van Buren Township Planning Commission held four public hearings on temporary land uses for fireworks stands at its April 23 meeting and at the May 14 meeting approved all the requests.
Three companies wanted to sell fireworks at four stands in VBT for more than the seven consecutive days allowed under the township zoning ordinance:
• TNT Fireworks in the Walmart parking lot at 10562 Belleville Road, 9 a.m.-10 p.m., June 24-July 6;
• USA Fireworks at Faith United Methodist Church, 6200 Denton Road, 9 a.m.-10 p.m., except for Sundays, which will be noon to 10 p.m., June 20-July 6;
• USA Fireworks at Belleville Square Shopping Center, 10864 Belleville Road, north of the I-94 Service Drive, 9 a.m.-10 p.m., June 20-July 6; and
• Phantom of Michigan at the Lakewood Shopping Plaza, 2095 Rawsonville Road, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., June 26-July 5.
At the public hearings, John Delaney said since the State of Michigan allowed expanded fireworks sales, the fireworks stands in VBT have increased by 100% every year – from one to two last year and now four this year.
He asked if it will be eight next year, then 16. He suggested over the next year that this township should sit down with the Public Safety Department to recommend approval of so many fireworks stands and no more, “So we don’t become the fireworks capital of Wayne County.”
He complained about Chinese “whatever” projectiles that carry live fire and the wind blows it down and it sets fields on fire.
Britt Tapper of Phantom of Michigan said a Chinese Lantern is not a firework.
Jason Bachelder of Bay Pointe Drive asked about two years ago, didn’t the township approve setting off lit lanterns from the Denton Road bridge?
Planning Commission chairwoman Carol Thompson said that was for the 100th anniversary of the Belleville Fire Department.
Bachelder said it’s the parental responsibility to watch out for use of fireworks by children. He said establishing points of sale has to be regulated by the municipality.
A resident of Endicott Street said she lives behind Walmart and she doesn’t want fireworks going off so close.
The fireworks representatives said they are not setting off fireworks, but just selling them. They said the law allows people to set off fireworks on federal holidays and the day before and the day after the holiday.
Steven Robinson, director of stores in Michigan for USA Fireworks, said in Michigan, they were going from zero base to fireworks sales.
“I don’t think you’ll see 100% growth annually,” he said, noting it was his opinion that the sales will level off.
Commissioner Joan Franzoi criticized the vendors for planning sales at Walmart and at nearby Belleville Square.
“Do you people comparison shop?” she asked.
Robinson said the church location they have had in the past is unique and they would like to continue that. But, they also would like to take advantage of the natural traffic at an open shopping center.
The vendors were questioned about safety training of employees, hours open, and other details.
Richard Tapper of Phantom said the township fire marshal will be inspecting this year instead of the state fire marshal, so the township will get the fees.
He said there have been no incidents in the last two years that Phantom had been at the Lakewood Shopping center.
The commissioners had no packets of information on the requests before them at the public hearings, but Arthur Mullen, director of planning and economic development, said commissioners would get complete packets before the next meeting when the votes would be taken. Commissioners had their packets at that meeting.
At the April 23 meeting, Delaney said he wanted to commend Arthur Mullen and the planning department for charging the right fees for carnivals this year. He said he filed a Freedom of Information Act request on the carnival fees charged to the two carnivals that had set up in the township — Elliott and Wade – since 2010.
He said he found in 2010, the fees were $280 each; in 2011, $280 each; in 2012, $420 each; and in 2013, $280 each.
Delaney said the fees this year are $2,600, which he said is the way its supposed to be.
Delaney said in four years the township lost $44,160 it was supposed to get. He added this has “no bearing” on Mullen, since he wasn’t there. He said it was the previous administration.
Also at the April 23 meeting, Mullen announced the recent death of Richard Sloan, 89, who owns a lot of property along Belleville Road and started development of the area south of Tyler Road. Mullen said Sloan died in California relatively quickly although he had been rather infirm for the last 10-15 years.
Mullen said he wanted to give Sloan credit for being a good corporate citizen, supporting the township in a variety of ways, and letting the township hold events on his property.
The township is actively working with interested parties to develop some of Sloan’s remaining vacant parcels, Mullen said.
By Rosemary K. Otzman