St. Clair ShoresJune 25, 2012
City works to regulate the sounds of the season
By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer
St. Clair Shores is investigating how it can best regulate fireworks in the wake of new state legislation that took effect Jan. 1 and allows the sale of “consumer fireworks,” such as Roman candles, bottle rockets and aerial fireworks.
“It usurps much municipal authority to regulate both sale and storage and use of fireworks,” said City Attorney Robert Ihrie.
He said he believes a goal of the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act of 2011 was to generate more taxes for the state, instead of those dollars going to neighboring Ohio and Indiana.
But the section of the ordinance giving municipalities like St. Clair Shores pause reads, “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.”
Ihrie still recommended the city develop an amended ordinance to try to regulate the discharge of fireworks “more than just relying upon our noise ordinance.”
“Even though it would appear that the language of state legislation eliminates the ability of the city to regulate the setting off of fireworks, even at 1 a.m., 2, 3 in the morning. … (There are) arguments that could be made that we could still take steps to regulate those,” he said.
Ihrie did warn City Council June 18 that such action could have the city involved in a
court case, but he said he expects that other municipalities will seek their own test cases, as well.
“My recommendation is that we, nevertheless, take action that is protective of the peace and quiet enjoyment of the residents of the city,” he said. “There are legitimate arguments that can be made.
“I can’t comprehend that, even though the legislation can be read to preclude us from any kind of (ordinance). … I can’t comprehend” that they meant cities to lose all authority.
Council unanimously agreed to have Ihrie’s office help the city take action.
“We need to do something,” said Mayor Kip Walby. “We’re going to need to make this a fast track.”
Ihrie said he expected to have a proposed ordinance before City Council at the July 2 meeting. Until then, he said, residents should still call in fireworks noise complaints to the police, and he will work with them to develop a course of action to enforce the noise ordinance in these instances.
City Councilman Chris Vitale recommended residents make another call, as well — to their representatives in the state Legislature.
“Ask … how they voted,” he said. “They’ve taken away our local control.”
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