Business owners request permission to sell pyrotechnics out of village’s former cheese shop
The owners of the Village of Belgium’s two gas stations and strip mall want to add a fireworks store inside the former cheese shop next to the Mobil.
Last week, Tom and Freddy Gill presented a request to the Plan Commission to start the process of amending a village ordinance for the shop.
“Right now, your current ordinance prohibits the storage of firworks in the village,” attorney Ed Ritger of Random Lake said. He is representing the Gills.
Ritger suggested added a clause to the ordinance that would allow people to store fireworks with a permit. He said he understands the Gills would still need a conditional use permit, which they can’t obtain until the ordinance is amended.
The request for the fireworks shop is backed by what the Gills are hearing from their customers, Ritger said.
“They get a lot of requests. People are heading north and look to buy fireworks,” he said.
Ritger said Lomira has a permitting process for its fireworks store and receives revenue from each sale.
Other communities, including the towns of Addison and Francis Creek, have fireworks stores as well, Ritger said.
“To me, the best resource would be to talk to some of these. You people are going to want to investigate this, make some calls,” Ritger said.
“Obviously, you don’t want anything that’s going to be a problem for your community, and we respect that.”
Commission members expressed skepticism about allowing a fireworks store before the meeting even started.
Don Gotcher asked what kind of fireworks would be sold. Freddy Gill said they would sell items typically used in Fourth of July celebrations, “nothing too big.”
Ritger said the fireworks would be for personal use, not professional-grade pyrotechnics like those set off at Fish Day or other festivals.
Whether the store would be opened all year is something the Gills are still debating They said they would lease the store to a fireworks distributor such as Uncle Sam’s.
“They’re not likely to operate it themselves,” Ritger said.
Gotcher asked about a sprinkler and security system. Freddy Gill said the system in place is what the former McDonald’s had before it became a cheese store.
Gill said fast food restaurants have nearly the same fire safety requirements as fireworks stores.
Ritger said he would look into safety and security measures at the store.
The store would meet the setback requirement of 50 feet from gas pumps at Mobil. The door is 65 feet away from the nearest pump.
The commission could next discuss the issue at its Feb. 27 meeting.