Photo by George Lauby
Angie and John Burrows outside City Hall.
John and Angie Burrows came to City Hall to make the best preparations they could for their party this weekend.
For the fifth year, the Burrows’ Clan will have a BBQ and fireworks party for family, friends and neighbors near the west edge of town, at 2904 West Ninth.
The Burrows shoot off fireworks and enjoy some music. This year a Celtic rock group, the Wild Colonial Bhoys, will perform.
The party is on July 3 so guests can spend July 4 elsewhere, they told the North Platte city council Tuesday. They expect around 60 people to attend.
The trouble is: city ordinances don’t allow fireworks after 10 p.m. on July 3.
The Burrows said it doesn’t get really dark until nearly 10 p.m. and they asked the council for permission to set them off later, but North Platte Fire Marshal George Lewis opposed the plan.
Lewis said the 10 p.m. provision allows folks to sleep at night, except on July 4th, when fireworks are allowed until midnight.
Lewis said if an exception were made for the Burrows, there could be a snowball effect. Next year, more people would want permission to shoot off fireworks later, too.
Councilman Brook Baker thought otherwise.
Baker said North Platte is built on shift work. He said people work nights at Bailey Yard, Great Plains Health, the Wal-Mart Distribution Center and the county jail. And, he said fireworks are often shot off later anyway. In fact, one went off recently near his window at 11 p.m.
Baker said it’s time to update the city ordinance.
“We need to match the (more permissive) state ordinance or make it better, and allow fireworks until midnight,” Baker said. “Instead of punishing people who try to do it right (by asking the council for permission) we should issue a special use permit.”
The Burrows said they talked to the neighbors and invited them to the party and they don’t expect any complaints. Their property is bordered on the south by the UP railroad tracks so no one lives in that direction.
They applied for permission back on June 13, but couldn’t get on the agenda of the June 17 meeting. With the party approaching, their flyers say the fireworks will begin at 10 p.m.
Neighbor Jennifer Hurst told the council she lives directly across the lot. She said the Burrows are respectful and the party’s never been a problem.
Councilman Tim Barrett said he’s “not against anything you are trying to do. We need to go back and revisit the ordinance. But it is hard to go against the ordinances. They are like our bylaws.”
Councilman Larry Campbell advised the Burrows to start shooting at 9:30 p.m. and finish by 10 p.m.
Again, Baker said it’s unfair to deny the Burrow permission. He said they asked, while others don’t and shoot them off later anyway.
“No one wants to come to us,” Baker said. “Something needs to change, hopefully for the better.”
The council denied the request, 7-1. Baker cast the yes vote.