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Neighbors smoldering over Suns' fireworks

June 17, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

HAGERSTOWN

gregs@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Suns' version of the rockets' red glare and the bombs bursting in air is a little too much for some of the team's residential neighbors.

A schedule the team distributed earlier this year of 13 fireworks displays includes a three-day fanfare of fireworks beginning July 2 and ending July 4.

A group of neighbors is objecting to the cluster of fireworks events around July 4, citing noise and other problems.

James Henson, 75, of South Cannon Avenue, collected a list of signatures from 31 neighbors in protest of the multiple fireworks displays. A copy of the list was sent this week to the Suns and the Hagerstown City Council.

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Suns General Manager Kurt Landes said he received the petition Tuesday, but there were no plans to curtail the fireworks schedule.

"We're pretty excited about hosting the fireworks here all three days just as a patriotic celebration over the Fourth of July weekend," Landes said.

The City Council agreed Tuesday to hold a special work session prior to its regular session next week to discuss the situation, including what effect the Suns displays might have on the city's July 4 fireworks display to be held a few blocks away at Fairgrounds Park.

Henson, reached at his home Wednesday, said he lives about 100 yards from the right-field wall. He said he doesn't mind four or five displays a year marking major holidays, "but not three in a row."

"I lived down here 75 years and I live directly across from (the stadium) and I never heard anything so loud. ... It rocks the pictures on my wall," Henson said.

Henson said he also objects to the debris and soot that rains down from the fireworks onto his two cars and house, and sees the fireworks as a money-making scheme.

Landes said the Suns put out fliers in the neighborhood before each fireworks display. He also said attendance is up during on nights the stadium holds fireworks.

"It's just a way for us to give back to the community," Landes said. "We want to be good neighbors."

John McCune, 82, of Radcliffe Avenue, said the neighbors had noise complaints last year about the fireworks, and he thought the issues had been resolved after he spoke directly to Suns management.

"All we're asking for is for the Suns management to show a little consideration and common sense," McCune said.

Noise ordinance


McCune said he believes fireworks may fall under the city's noise ordinance, which generally bans "any noise which either annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of others ..."

Fireworks are not mentioned specifically in the city's ordinance, but one exception from the ban is for "non-amplified sound from duly licensed and/or authorized athletic contests, parades and municipally sponsored celebrations."

City attorney John Urner said another city attorney, Mark Boyer, is handling noise ordinance issues. Boyer was unavailable Wednesday, and Urner declined to comment.

Landes said the Suns have never been cited for a noise ordinance violation.

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