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Sparklers will remain illegal in Schenectady County

Sparklers will remain illegal in Schenectady County

County action needed to preserve status quo after state law is changed
Sparklers will remain illegal in Schenectady County
Photographer: Shutterstock

SCHENECTADY COUNTY — Sparklers and similar small fireworks will remain illegal in Schenectady County.

The County Legislature on Tuesday passed a new local law reaffirming last year's decision to prohibit the devices. The Legislature had to pass the new county law because of a change in state law in 2017.

The county banned fireworks after receiving complaints that legalizing small fireworks had apparently encouraged many residents to decide they could openly use larger aerial fireworks.

"We're taking the action to stay where we are now, even though the state has changed its position," said Legislature Majority Leader Gary E. Hughes, D-Schenectady.

This time, there was no outcry from fireworks supporters. At a public hearing last week, the only speakers were Schenectady Housing Authority Executive Director Richard Homenick and city Fire Chief Raymond Senecal, both of whom think sparking devices should be illegal. The Housing Authority had a building destroyed by fire in 2005 after a sparkler was tossed into it, Homenick said.

“In 30 years with the department we have seen issues with all kinds of fireworks," Senecal said. “Specifically, the sparklers are just as hazardous and dangerous as any firework.”

When the Legislature last May repealed its firework law, it became the first county do so based on experience. At the time, the state Legislature was requiring counties to opt-in to allow sparklers, and 40 counties had done so.

In 2017, however, new legislation made sparkling devices legal across the state, unless individual counties opt out. Schenectady County is the first to do so.

Under state law, sale and possession of sparklers and similar devices is legal for only a handful of days each year -- the week before the Fourth of July, and the week before New Year's Day. All other fireworks are forbidden in New York state.

Every other county in the Capital Region allows sparkler sales. That law had an economic impact, though, with department stores and dollar stores setting up fireworks displays, and other vendors selling fireworks from tents set up in parking lots and gas stations across the region.

The County Legislature also adopted a revised law covering how long landlords must keep the personal possessions of an evicted tenant. The maximum-hold period is being reduced from six months to 30 days, except for landlords in the city of Schenectady who have not complied with the city's rental inspection program.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, swilliams@dailygazette.net or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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