By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
At a recent council meeting, Grove City officials addressed a hot topic in the social media realm – Phantom Fireworks and its interest in operating a retail store in the city.
According to Deputy City Administrator William Vedra, city leaders learned of the company’s interest in the facility at 1700 Buckeye Place this past summer. The location is where the old HH Gregg store was housed.
“Since that time, we have been trying to get our head around the complex process of permitting and licensing a fireworks retail establishment,” said Vedra.
Council members said they have been contacted by citizens who are concerned about this type of establishment in the city.
“We’ve had calls and emails from residents asking how the city could allow this,” said Roby Schottke. “We do not approve leases for commercial spaces.”
According to Stephen Smith, the city’s law director, Grove City is not permitted by law to get involved in private leases.
“We don’t have the ability to impair the contract between two parties,” said Smith. “All we do is set the zoning in terms of what uses are allowed at this property.”
City officials said they rarely know when property changes hands unless it requires a building permit.
Vedra said licensing a fireworks retail store involves the state fire marshal and the office on industrial compliance. The Jackson Township Fire Department would perform ongoing inspections.
Vedra believes the change in the state law has increased demand in the market and made it more attractive for businesses like Phantom Fireworks to find additional locations.
The new Ohio law, which went into effect in July, allows individuals to possess consumer grade fireworks and to discharge them on their own property on the following days: New Year’s Day, Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day weekend, Juneteenth, July 3-5, and the Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays preceding Labor Day weekend, Diwali, and New Year’s Eve.
However, the state law enables local governments to restrict the dates and times when an individual may discharge fireworks or to impose a complete ban on the use of consumer-grade fireworks.
“Local governments can determine if they want fireworks to go off. A lot of cities allow it on certain days, like July 4,” said Smith.
Fireworks are still prohibited in Grove City.
Council president Ted Berry asked if the city could require the fireworks establishment to hand out literature with the sale of the products that would let customers know that they are not permitted to set off the explosives in the city of Grove City.
Smith said that is something that has been brought up and that they are exploring. The law director said the city does intend to work with Phantom Fireworks and the surrounding businesses to inform them of what is and what is not permitted.
The Messenger reached out to Phantom Fireworks for comment, but as of press time has not heard back.
Vedra said there is no word yet on when the company will move into the city. He said they are still in the inspection process and have yet to file an occupancy permit.