LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Although the lighting of fireworks other than certain approved sparklers is illegal in all communities of Lakewood Ranch, incidents reported in the District 6 Country Club West area over the Fourth of July have raised some questions.
According to Community Development District 6 Supervisor Bob Burstein, some homeowners who rent property on Harwick Lane near his home set off propellants that burned some of the tar on the surrounding roads. Now, Burstein is proposing a fireworks policy that reiterates the illegality of lighting fireworks in his district, which he said would make a strong statement for next year's Fourth of July celebration as well as New Year's Eve.
"I believe that the people who set these off were renters and renters with children. The thought occurred to me that there's a danger here, besides a danger to CDD 6 property. Exploding fireworks are illegal, unless permitted to do so, and pose a hazard to adults, children, pets and property, including the road surface," Burstein told his fellow supervisors during a monthly workshop review.
Burstein says he contacted the Country Club West Association director, Irwin Davis, suggesting that the homeowners association, through its neighborhood e-mail system, inform all homeowners they should call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office if illegal fireworks are used within their neighborhoods during the holiday or at any other time. He also advised homeowners to inform any neighbors who are renting homes in the district that such activity is illegal.
Susan Ellis, Edenmore Neighborhood Committee chair and vice president of the homeowners association, becomes a CDD 6 supervisor
next year. She plans to make the information available to all the neighborhood chairs so they can inform their homeowners and renters.
"We'll make the effort to get the information to them," she said. "They might not look at it, but again, they might."
The proposed policy also states that should the use of fireworks damage any of the roads owned by CDD 6, the district would seek repair costs from the violators.
Supervisor Jim Hill said the policy should be conveyed directly to homeowners since they are ultimately responsible for the renters.
"But I'm a little wary of making this a district policy," he noted. "This is an illegal activity which needs to be reported to the sheriff. We're not going to engage in any police duties whatsoever. The timeliness is important, though."
Following Hill's comment, the group agreed they would introduce the proposed policy to Community Development Districts 2 and 5, which are also part of the Country Club area of Lakewood Ranch.
Supervisor Richard Williams said he believed that most homeowners are aware they should contact the sheriff's office, but many are not convinced of how effective it would be.
Inter-District Authority Executive Director Eva Rey summed it up.
"The fireworks issue comes up every year with the understanding that it's a law enforcement issue and we have zero capabilities," she said. "Just don't create the expectation that people can call Town Hall and do anything about it."
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellHerald.