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Doña Ana County Commission nixes firework restrictions on split vote


Doña Ana County commissioners voted 3-2 not to implement increased fireworks restrictions ahead of the July 4th season, diverging from the city of Las Cruces on a similar measure earlier this month. The commissioners met in regular session on June 11.

The problem for the commission’s majority stemmed from a view that patchwork enforcement would be fruitless and affect only a few residents. The two commissioners who supported the measure said any restriction to limit potential wildfires amid severe drought would benefit the county.

Amid severe drought conditions, the state allows municipalities to limit firework use and sale. But the county’s measure would have only affected unincorporated parts of Doña Ana County. Municipalities like Mesilla, Las Cruces, Hatch and Anthony have the authority to implement their own measures – or not implement anything, as some have done.

The Las Cruces City Council passed a resolution on June 5 restricting the use of fireworks such as missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners, stick-type rockets and ground audible devices such as chasers and firecrackers. But Mesilla and Anthony, two places where fireworks sales are common, have not.

The county already bans many aerial fireworks. However, the proposed increase in restriction would have tightened it ahead of the July 4th holiday.

“I don’t necessarily think that we need to prohibit something that’s already prohibited,” said District 1 Commissioner Christopher Schaljo-Hernandez.

District 4 Commissioner Susana Chaparro said she’d previously voted in favor of increasing restriction. But this time, she would vote against it.

“Even if we prohibit the sale of fireworks within the unincorporated parts of the county, we still have parts of the county that are still going to allow the sale of fireworks. To me, it doesn’t make sense. We’re just batting down someone who happens to be in the unincorporated parts of the county,” Chaparro said.

Schaljo-Hernandez and Chaparro joined District 2 commissioner Diana Murillo in opposing the measure. District 4 Commissioner Manuel Sanchez and District 3 Commissioner Shannon Reynolds were the only supporters of increased restrictions.

“If you ask me, I think it’s very irresponsible of the municipalities (not to pass restrictions amid drought), especially when you have a couple that rely on county fire to provide services for them,” Sanchez said.

Fireworks, restrictions, July 4th