Hammond fireworks sellers won't be back

2012-07-19T23:15:00Z Hammond fireworks sellers won't be backBy Steve Zabroski Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
July 19, 2012 11:15 pm  • 

HAMMOND | A fireworks vendor on the city's far southeast side whose sales tactics incensed nearby residents earlier this month won't be back next year.

Citing numerous violations of city ordinances — including sales without a business permit — the Board of Public Works and Safety on Thursday rejected any further licensing for the outlet known variously as Sammy's Big Bang and Cheap Fireworks at 7509 Calumet Ave.

"They had bull horns, they had air horns, they set off fireworks all night," said neighbor Lawrence Miller. "They ruined the quality of life for homeowners within a quarter mile."

A dozen residents, including current and former City Council members and a former dity judge, appeared before the board Thursday to relate their noise, trash and traffic obstruction complaints from the week leading up to the Independence Day holiday.

City Attorney Kristina Kantar said the business had been issued six citations for interference with vehicle and pedestrian traffic with its balloons, flags and bikini-clad hawkers, as well as for the open burning of garbage on the site.

"We welcome businesses," said City Councilwoman Janet Venecz, D-at large, "But we expect them to respect the law and respect us as individuals."

City Controller Robert Lendi, a works board member, said the fireworks shop had no business license, and the license for a related business on the property, V & B Jewelers, expired in June.

A state certificate for fireworks sales from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security's Division of Fire and Building Safety was issued to "7509 Calumet Fireworks" on May 30.

State fire officials visited the business, said City Councilman Michael Opinker, D-5th, who also is chief fire inspector with the Hammond Fire Department, and operators refused to take down a portable tent where fireworks were stacked, a violation of state and city safety codes.

Ghassan Odtallah, listed as the agent and principal of a company registered as "7509 Calumet Inc." with the Indiana secretary of state, told the works board he was left with "$200,000 in unsold inventory, because customers run when they see police on the property."

But Odtallah said he "just work(s) there." His brother owns the business, and his mother owns the property, he said.

The works board ruled that no further business license would be considered for the operators, and directed the city's Law Department to take all necessary measures — including potential injunctive action — to prevent future violations at the site.

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