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Murrells Inlet: Petition seeks ban on fireworks over water

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Members of the Winyah Sierra Club signed a petition that began circulating Monday for Georgetown County to ban fireworks over Murrells Inlet.

Gary Weinreich, a resident of Murrells Inlet, presented the petition to club members at their monthly meeting at Applewood House of Pancakes. He and his wife, Emily, Leon Rice and Sandra Bundy are complainants in noise violation cases against employees of Zambelli Fireworks, hired by the Marsh Walk Group to shoot fireworks on 10 Monday nights last summer. If an agreement cannot be reached by the parties today, the cases will be scheduled for jury trial in Georgetown next week.

Weinreich said he had four areas of concern regarding fireworks over the inlet: debris, chemicals, impact on wildlife and noise. “Noise is the avenue we are pursuing right now,” he told club members. “They can be heard three miles away and disturb residents and pets.”

He asked members of the Sierra Club to lend their support to the fireworks ban in order to reduce impact of pollution on the inlet. Executive committee member Peg Howell asked Weinreich if he considered a larger area for a ban on fireworks. He said he originally considered the entire Waccamaw Neck but decided that was too big for a first step.

Georgetown County attorney Wesley Bryant said he could look into the county’s jurisdiction on navigable waters but would be hesitant to pass a criminal misdemeanor ordinance for shooting fireworks without a lot more research. “You might,” he said, “get into one of those cases like criminalizing smoking, conduct that the state has deemed to be non-criminal, and get into an argument whether you can enforce your ordinance based on it being a misdemeanor versus a civil infraction.”

Bryant said the state provided a means of banning fireworks when it approved an ordinance allowing owners of oceanfront property to establish fireworks-free zones that run to the low-water mark. “That would be the avenue I would first propose,” he said.

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