SARATOGA SPRINGS: How late is too late?

Saratoga Springs city officials are looking to tighten up the application process for fireworks displays in the city after a recent display rattled residents' windows after 11 p.m.

Prompted by complaints about a 15-minute display that was scheduled for 10:40 p.m., but started 20 minutes late on Friday, April 27, city officials met to discuss ways they could regulate the time, purpose and location of such events.

More than a dozen people complained to the city about the noise and lateness.

Michele McGraw Boxley, deputy commissioner of accounts, said the city tries to end firework displays before 11 p.m., but there is nothing in the law to enforce the timing.

Really, there is no way we can enforce that. If they go off late what's the recourse?" she said.

Assistant City Attorney Tony Izzo said most fireworks display applications come from fraternal organizations and fair or event organizers, but there has been a recent increase in applications by individuals for events such as private parties.

"In the 20 years that I've been here, I've rarely seen anyone put on a private fireworks display," said Izzo. "Only in recent years have I seen that trend."

The current approval process involves signoffs from the public safety department, including code enforcement, police and fire; public works; and the accounts department, which issues insurance permits. State law specifies that a permit for the public display of fireworks may be granted only to municipalities, fair associations, amusement parks or organizations of individuals.

Izzo said that under the city ordinance and state law, which serves as a guideline for fireworks applications and cannot be superseded, individuals cannot be granted a permit for a fireworks display.

Izzo said many individuals get around that by finding a fraternal organization, such as the Elks or the Knights of Columbus, to submit the application on their behalf.

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