Houston vs. Fireworks Owners
by: Laurie Johnson, November 14, 2007 12:11:00 am
Ray Soffes owns several fireworks stands in unincorporated parts of Harris County. But he says the City of Houston is making it harder for him to earn a living.
"I come up here today because the city is putting my firework business out of business. I've worked over ten years to do my business in unincorporated parts of Harris County where there has been no ban."
At issue is what is known as limited purpose annexations -- where MUDs pay a small tax in exchange for very specific services from the city. In this case, a handful of MUDs have asked the city to implement this annexation for the purpose of enforcing the ban on the sale, purchase or use of fireworks. Houston Mayor Bill White says they're not banning fireworks throughout Harris County.
"But to be very precise, we're trying to respond to the neighborhoods and county officials who've encouraged us to use the powers that we do have under law to protect neighborhoods and make those areas safer."
The mayor says the ban comes at the specific request of neighborhood associations and county commissioners. But fireworks stand owners like Soffes say there's clearly a demand for fireworks outside the city limits and they believe it's unfair to drive them out of certain areas where they've operated for decades. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.