After a two day trial involving the City of East Ridge and Mid-America, Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton upheld the city’s ordinance which prohibits the sale of fireworks from anything but a brick and mortar building that is outfitted with a sprinkler system, said City Attorney Hal North.
Mid America filed the suit against the city claiming that Ordinance 901 _ the law in East Ridge that regulates the sales of fireworks _ was unconstitutional as it violated the equal protection guarantees.
The court heard from numerous witnesses including Mayor Brent Lambert, former city manager Eddie Phillips, Fire Marshal Kenny Custer, officials from the Regional Planning Agency and an expert witness on ballistics, Bart Kemper.
North said that the Chancellor determined that East Ridge had a rational basis to prohibit firework sales from tents, primarily for safety reasons. Attorneys for the city argued that it is safer to sell fireworks from permanent structures that are sprinkled.
Last summer the judge denied an injunction by the City to stop Mid America from selling fireworks from tents that were set up close to fireworks stores on Ringgold Road. The ruling infuriated fireworks stores business owners who had to comply with the city’s ordinances.
East Ridge is the only city in the four largest metropolitan counties in the state that allows the sale of fireworks, officials said. It is illegal to discharge fireworks within the city limits of East Ridge.