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Litchfield Beaches: Local fireworks bans gain momentum
By Jason Lesley
Banning fireworks from the beach in North Litchfield is becoming a movement. Fourteen more property owners have applied to Georgetown County Council for Fireworks Prohibited Zones on their property and the adjoining beach. A public hearing is scheduled Aug. 25 during the council meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the old county courthouse in Georgetown.
Karen Cline a resident of Parker Drive started a drive two years ago to sign up neighbors for the zones to prohibit fireworks. The Litchfield Beaches Property Owners Association didn’t want to get involved, noting that some residents wanted to allow fireworks on the beach.
“I could not watch that beach turn into something ugly,” Cline said. “I’ve been living there 13 years and saw it getting worse and worse. I had to be proactive.”
County Council Member John Thomas said the new applicants will bring the total number of properties banning fireworks in North Litchfield to 29 with about 30 more in Litchfield Beach. Most are on the northern end of the North Litchfield beach, he said, with the gaps on the south end where he lives. There are about 10 more applications in the works that will ban fireworks from half the 80 oceanfront lots.
Thomas said North Litchfield resident Jennifer Chapman got energized and organized the latest group of property owners seeking fireworks free zones. Chapman said its not uncommon for fireworks to be shot after her children are asleep. They’ve been awakened at 3 a.m. More serious, she said, is the threat of fire. On July 4, someone put some fireworks into a trash can at Walkway 48 near her home. A fire melted the plastic receptacle and burned the wooden frame. “We are very lucky that the fire didn’t spread up the walkway and into the dunes,” she said. “We are not against fireworks, it’s just the middle-of-the-night thing and people not picking up their trash. A lot of plastic is getting into the ocean, and that’s not good for sea turtles and wildlife.”
Cline said she met a couple from California vacationing at North Litchfield and asked them why they had flown across the country. They told her their beaches had gotten so trashy they didn’t enjoy visiting them any more. “Well, you are looking at the No. 1 person trying to keep this beach beautiful,” she told them.
Cline said she has extinguished five fires started by fireworks in the dunes since she moved to North Litchfield. “What if I hadn’t been there?” she asked. “What would have happened? The beach is growing. The number of people have increased. We need some sort of regulation to keep it in check.”
Cline said people visiting North Litchfield bring wooden launch pads to the beach in order to fire powerful rockets at all hours of the night. “It’s every night, all night,” she said. “One person coming to the beach with those huge fireworks disrupts the whole neighborhood. It’s not firecrackers any more. One person can disrupt the whole neighborhood’s sleep. Is that fair?”
The goal, Cline said, is to make North Litchfield’s beach a continuous fireworks free zone. “We are looking to make the job easy for our police,” she said. “They are confused. They don’t know who is in the zone. If we can make it uniform, it will make their job easier.”
North Litchfield residents who have applied to prohibit fireworks from their property and the adjoining beach include: Tarek Bishara, 15 Seaview Loop; Helen H. Yates, 170 Seaview Loop; Bettye C. Cecil, 72 Shorebird Loop; J. Murray Atkins, 248 Parker Drive; Clint Edwards, 436 Parker Drive; Canon W. Moore, 498 Parker Drive; Dolores Brandt, 674 Parker Drive; Joseph P. McLean, 902 Parker Drive; Randolph A. Chapman, 980 Parker Drive; Hoda Blau, 1008 Parker Drive; Ernest L. Frierson, 1068 Parker Drive; Martha B. Hopkins, 1116 Parker Drive; and Kathryn C. Tedeschi, 1130 Parker Drive; Emily Harry, 1146 Parker Drive.