Record-breaking firework is a go again, thanks to county’s blessing
October 2, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Tim Borden's record-breaking fireworks show will go on.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a special use permit that will allow Borden to continue manufacturing and testing fireworks at his ranch off of Elk River Road.
The process did not come without some criticism.
Several of Borden's supporters were very critical of the county's planning staff for requiring Borden to get a permit for something the hobbyist has been doing for years.
"Certainly leave it up to government to find a solution without a problem," said former Steamboat Springs City Council member Jon Quinn during public comment.
Paul Hoffman implied the county was meddling with Borden's hobby, which is building fireworks and annually donating them to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club during Winter Carnival.
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"I think it's disappointing that we are here because I think the county is delving into regulating people's hobbies," Hoffman said. "I think that's an overreach."
Even Commissioner Cari Hermacinski was critical of the planning department for going after Borden.
She said the county did not launch the permitting process because of a complaint from a neighbor. She said the permitting process was launched after planning staff read about Borden's recent efforts to build and launch a 62-inch shell during Winter Carnival. Guinness World Records is coming to Steamboat to certify the record.
"I'm sorry that you're here, and I think it's a complete failure on the part of the county," Hermacinski said to Borden during the hearing. "I have concerns about how you even got drug into this process. I disagree with the staff assessment that you need one."
Tim Corrigan was more sympathetic toward planning staff.
"I actually don't have a problem with our process," Corrigan said. "I think this is a really unique situation. In the six years I've been here, I've never been confronted by anything like this."
Borden's fireworks operations are inspected by both state officials and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF.
Borden said ATF comes out every three years for eight to 10 hours. They do things like check the integrity of the metal at his facility.
"And oddly enough they weigh every firework," Borden said.
Borden was cooperative during the process, and he won over support from some powerful community organizations, such as Steamboat Resort.
One of the issues the county examined was potential noise impacts.
There was one neighbor who said fireworks testing spooked her horses and caused an injury.
"Now she's supportive," Borden said. "There has not been a single community member that has raised an objection."
Before doing testing on his property, Borden will be required to notify neighbors.
Borden said he is fine with that.
Borden will also have to make some minor improvements to his facility to bring it up to code. He will have to spend about $1,000 to improve a roof structure over a shipping container.
Borden has 180 days to make the improvements. If he doesn't make them in time, Borden will have to cease fireworks manufacturing.
Borden is confident he will be able to stay on schedule with building the 62-inch shell, and he will then be able to put this saga to rest with a big bang.