St. Clair ShoresJuly 20, 2012
City urges repeal of new fireworks laws
By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer
Hoping to send a message to the state about the importance of peace and quiet, City Council approved a resolution calling for the repeal of the state’s new fireworks laws.
City Manager Ben Hughes said the Police Department received 26 fireworks-related calls July 3 and wrote nine violations. There were 45 calls for service July 4, and 14 violations were issued, with nine total arrests: two for disorderly conduct, two for possession of narcotics, four for trespassing and one felony complaint now being handled by the prosecutor’s office for a man accused of throwing a large-caliber firework at his neighbor.
“We are now outside of that state-proscribed three-day window,” Hughes said July 16. “We still have residents who are choosing to light off fireworks. Our Police Department is still responding.
“We will respond. The same set of ordinances will certainly be pursued, but we need your cooperation to issue a violation.”
The state laws, which took effect Jan. 1, state that, “A local unit of government may enact an ordinance regulating the ignition, discharge and use of consumer fireworks. However, an ordinance enacted under this subsection shall not regulate the use of consumer fireworks on the day preceding, the day of or the day after a national holiday.” The protected holidays are New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Councilman Peter Rubino said he doesn’t support a repeal of the law — which made such consumer fireworks as roman candles, bottle rockets and aerial fireworks legal — but thinks instead that the city should send a resolution asking the state to amend its laws.
“I feel it’s more important that we keep local control,” he said. “Not everyone lives in the same type of city we have. I’m not looking to dictate to anyone else or to any other city what they can do. I just want the ability for our city to govern ourselves.”
Both Councilman Ron Frederick and Councilwoman Candice Rusie agreed.
“I would rather see them up there have our guidance as to what changes we want,” Rusie said.
But other council members said they were afraid that if the matter were handed back to local control, that still wouldn’t solve the problem of easy access to consumer-grade fireworks and an overworked Police Department.
“No matter what they amend it, as long as the supply is going to be available, it will be nearly impossible to enforce,” said Councilman John Caron. “If people want to use it out in the country … have them start from scratch on it.”
Mayor Kip Walby said that from the tone of the emails and phone calls he has received from residents, he believes a full repeal is necessary.
“Their desire is, absolutely, repeal and get the peace back and forget the money,” he said.
The resolution, which was approved 5-2 over the objections of Rubino and Rusie, urges the Michigan Legislature to repeal Public Act 256 of 2011 and directs the city clerk to forward the resolution to Gov. Rick Snyder, as well as the state senator and representative for St. Clair Shores.
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