By Mark Waite
TONOPAH — Nye County Commissioners voted 4-1 Friday to renew an annual fireworks permit for Ninja Fireworks, dba Blackjack Fireworks, though District Attorney Brian Kunzi indicated he intends to file charges against the company for setting up a tent to sell fireworks last summer.
The Pahrump Regional Planning Commission voted May 9 to approve a conditional use permit allowing the fireworks tent on property owned by Blackjack Fireworks that was formerly used to store fireworks, but now consisted of only a concrete slab at Highway 160 near Manse Road.
By the time a protest of the RPC action was heard at the county commission meeting July 3, the busy July Fourth season had ended. At the time, Kunzi said he had problems with putting high explosive fireworks with no fire suppression in the middle of a desert.
Kunzi told commissioners Friday, “There has been an investigation in that and I’d just like to advise you we’re likely to be filing criminal charges for violations of the fireworks code in the operation of that tent.”
Cali Stark, who handles special licenses for the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, said their annual wholesale/retail fireworks permit actually expired in October.
Commissioners initially deadlocked 2-2 on whether to approve the renewal. Commissioners Lorinda Wichman and Butch Borasky voted against, while commissioners Gary Hollis and Dan Schinhofen voted in favor. When Commissioner Joni Eastley arrived late, they took another vote and Eastley convinced everyone but Borasky to approve the renewal.
Schinhofen, apparently after receiving an email from the DA on his laptop computer during the discussion, said Kunzi told him somebody who voted in favor of the renewal had to request reconsideration. Schinhofen requested the board reconsider.
Eastley said she was taking the advice of the district attorney, who elaborated more on what the commission should do, after failing to give them much direction earlier.
“Everybody deserves their time in court, again the investigation and I can’t really get into the specifics of it because we haven’t given any notice. We’re not here to debate it. But there certainly are problems with the terms of the ordinance. At this stage, I think it would be better to approve the license, understanding that I think however the criminal action turns out you might then want to consider taking action against their license at that point in time,” Kunzi said.
During a discussion at the July 3 meeting, Kunzi said the county ordinance needed to be clarified on the transfer of permits and how one fireworks company allows someone else to sell fireworks. Kunzi told Ninja Fireworks attorney Jeffrey Shaner he considered the sale of fireworks at the tent location at 4551 S. Highway 160 to be a violation of their fireworks permit, which only allows sales at their store at 1181 S. Highway 160. In a June 19 letter to Shaner, Kunzi said all persons involved in the sale of fireworks under the tent were responsible and every transaction would constitute a separate criminal violation.
Nevada District 36 Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Pahrump, filed the protest of the conditional use permit before the county commission. Goedhart said the RPC erred in restoring a previously-abandoned grandfathered use, the abandoned storage site on Highway 160.
But Blackjack Fireworks last year won a writ of mandamus in court stipulating it sold fireworks at both locations.
The conditional use permit approved by the RPC required special conditions of approval.
Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Service had to inspect the tent before it opened for business and the tent had to be constructed of a flame resistant material. Shaner told the Pahrump Valley Times there were numerous fire extinguishers in the tent and more than adequate spacing in the aisles.
Ninja Fireworks is owned by Anthony McCoy, Blackjack Fireworks is owned by the estate of his late father, Frank McCoy Sr.
The applicant for the conditional use permit was Andrew Noll of Wells Fargo Bank, a managing member of Blackjack Fireworks.