FAIR HAVEN — Few members of the public attended a hearing to voice their opinions on the draft permit for a fireworks seller hoping to set up shop in town, but the board did, by consensus, agree to lower the fee from $5,000 to $1,000.
Chuck and Chip Greeno own C&C Fireworks, which has had a location in Pittsford for several years now and until recently a shop in Rutland Town. The father and son duo decided to leave Rutland Town earlier this year after several issues cropped up between them and the town over their sellers permit. The Greenos have since been seeking a host town for their second location, courting Fair Haven as well as West Rutland.
“We’re just looking forward to going over this with the board and seeing what is going to stay and what isn’t,” said Chip Greeno at the Oct. 5 Fair Haven Select Board meeting. “We’re glad there’s not a bunch of people standing in the back of the room.”
Beside the Greenos and the board, there were few people in the room to speak for or against the language in the proposed fireworks sellers permit. One person did say they were in favor of having C&C set up in town.
Select Board member Glen Traverse said he’s not taking a lack of in-person opposition as a sign of overwhelming town support. Going by comments he’s seen on Facebook, he believes about half the people speaking are for the fireworks sales, the other half are not. He’s received a few phone calls about it, none speaking in favor.
Traverse said he supports the $5,000 annual license fee, saying it will be needed to offset the issues fireworks lead to. He noted that the Greenos have been open about their experiences in other towns.
“Once the public sees we’re not shooting them, we’re only selling them... a lot of people get upset because they think we’re going to take them out back and start shooting them off. That’s not the way it is, it’s sales only,” said Chuck Greeno.
The Greenos have said in the past that their first year in Pittsford generated complaints, but they made some adjustments to their practices and things have been going smoothly since.
Select Board member Rod Holzworth wanted to know what other businesses have to pay a $5,000 fee just to operate.
Chip Greeno said a $5,000 fee is too high. He noted that C&C Fireworks donates $1,000 to the fire department in whatever town it operates in on an annual basis. The board agreed to set the fee at $1,000 to be used at the town’s discretion, as the burden caused by fireworks issues and permitting wouldn’t necessarily fall onto the fire department.
They briefly discussed fees for the permit folks would need to light fireworks within Fair Haven. That permit is separate from this permit.
According to Chip Greeno, most of C&C’s sales are to out-of-state residents. It’s why they have little issue not selling to town residents unless those people are holding a permit from the town. He noted that people in Fair Haven who want to buy and light fireworks can buy them elsewhere. Having C&C Fireworks in town would give the board some control over the issue, and their presence might bring some people to town.
Holzworth said the real public debate over this might begin when C&C Fireworks settles on a location and applies for a zoning permit.
Chip Greeno said there are a few locations being eyed and that he and his father are open to more dialogue. They wish to operate long-term in a town where they’re welcome. He said towns in the past have granted them year-to-year permits, making their terms longer should there be no problems.