Building owner nixes fireworks store

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published June 23, 2014

ROYAL OAK — A little more than a month after getting site plan approval from the Planning Commission, the owner of a vacant commercial property on the city’s southeast side told the Review that he has decided against moving in a retail fireworks store at the locale.

The store would have occupied 1638 E. Lincoln Ave., a former pizza shop at the intersection with Campbell Road.

The owners of Fresh Approach Market grocery store, located across the street, also own the property where Firework Factory would have opened.

Nate Jaddou, part owner and manager of Fresh Approach, said the decision was partly due to the costs of bringing the property up to code, and also due to the number of complaints from residents and customers in the largely residential area.

“We are going to hold off on the firework store,” said Jaddou in a June 19 phone interview.

The prospect of the store moving into the location had reignited the debate on the controversial Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, which became law in 2011 and went into effect in 2012.

The fireworks act says that “a local unit of government shall not enact or enforce an ordinance, code, or regulation pertaining to or in any manner regulating the sale, display, storage, transportation, or distribution of fireworks regulated under this act.”

So when the issue came before the Planning Commission in May, state law forced the commission to treat the fireworks store as any other retail operation and drew the ire of nearby residents and Mayor Jim Ellison.

Ellison said he wasn’t happy that the landlord lost a client, but he was “relieved.”

“I’m relieved that it’s not going to be there, because we won’t have to worry about the activities there,” he said.

Foremost, Ellison said he wants the state law repealed.

Jaddou said replacing the parking lot of 1638 E. Lincoln Ave. — one of the contingencies from the city — likely would have cost him $10,000.

“They wanted us to repave the whole thing, and to repave it you have to dig up the whole existing concrete,” Jaddou said.

That’s a figure he wasn’t willing to pay for a business that would have been open full time for only four months of the year.

Further, he said there were an overwhelming number of complaints from customers who said they would no longer shop at his store if the fireworks store opened.

“Nobody liked the idea of a fireworks store,” he said.

Jaddou said he would continue to look for a business to fill the vacant space that will make it worth replacing the parking lot and that will make nearby residents happy.

“That’s what we want to do is make something that makes everyone happy and does well,” he said.

Ellison also spoke out on some of the harmful things said about the Firework Factory owner on online blogs and news sites. He said the community was passionate about the issue but some people crossed the line.

“There are ways to show your dissatisfaction,” Ellison said. “You can call this store up and say ‘I don’t think you should do this,’ but don’t sit out there and call the guy names.”