News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, November 5, 2010
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- It's hard to miss Halloween Express coming into North Augusta from I-20 onto Martintown Road. Now that Halloween is over, the business owner wants to start selling fireworks for New Year's.
People living in the neighborhoods behind the store think that's a bad idea, and the city doesn't allow fireworks shops in the city limits.
North Augusta's Mayor Lark Jones says the store knew that before opening, but now the store is appealing again because they say it's not right.
No more 50 percent off and time to put away the Halloween costumes for Halloween Express.
"I'm kind of glad," Mitzi Sharp of Halloween Express said. "I'm ready to go home (to Columbia) but I'm kind of sad because it means no job until fireworks come."
But right now, fireworks aren't coming to the North Augusta store.
"Hopefully they'll be able to figure something out," Sharp said. "But I think it's kind of wrong because there is another fireworks store across the street."
Mayor Jones said Fireworks Giant was built and permitted in the county and that it was outside of North Augusta city limits. He said the city had no regulating authority over it.
A year ago, Halloween Express asked for an exception to the fireworks ordinance. North Augusta Board of Zoning Appeals documents from November 5, 2009 show it met criterion one, which states the building complies with all applicable development standards contained elsewhere in the North Augusta Development Code (NADC).
The documents show the store didn't meet criterion two or three, which states it is not in harmony with nearby residential developments to the south and west of the property. Criterion three states, "due to increased traffic and nearby residential property devaluation anticipated to result from the development, will have detrimental impact on existing and proposed residential development in the area".
"There are reasons behind things that aren't apparent to folks, and traffic concerns is one of them," Jones said.
Now the store is filing a lawsuit, asking for an appeal. They have eight pages worth of signatures from customers who think they should be able to have fireworks.
"I mean, people love fireworks," Sharp said. "That's why I don't see why we're not welcomed here."
"(The owner) told the city he was going to have a costume novelty store," Jones said. "I would say now that Halloween is over, sell Christmas stuff and when Christmas is over sell Valentine's stuff."
And if they don't win an appeal, that's just what Halloween Express might have to do.
"We'll definitely be back for Halloween," Sharp said. "Maybe Easter or Valentine's. We may try and go that route, but we're not sure."
People who live in the area tell News 12 they don't want either fireworks shop to be there; it's not just the Halloween Express. Since Fireworks Giant was already established when the city decided not to allow fireworks, they're stuck with at least one--they just don't want two.
Mayor Jones said the petitions that were signed don't hold any weight unless they come from people who live in North Augusta. If they were from people who lived nearby or in the neighborhood directly behind the store, then it would be a different story.
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