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Ferndale

June 17, 2014

Council adopts resolution asking for repeal of 2011 fireworks act

By Joshua Gordon
C & G Staff Writer

FERNDALE — Ferndale city officials have butted heads with the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act since it was passed in 2011, and during the June 9 City Council meeting, the council adopted a resolution to urge state legislators to repeal the act.

Council adopted the resolution as part of the consent agenda, as it regularly does when items pertain to business not directly related to the city, such as state or federal issues, Mayor Dave Coulter said.

Council members Dan Martin and Greg Pawlica requested the item to be on the agenda, but they were not the only ones questioning the Fireworks Safety Act. With the unanimous adoption, the resolution will be forwarded to Gov. Rick Snyder, state senators and representatives, as well as other communities in Oakland County.

“A couple years back, the state Legislature passed a public act that took away control of municipalities when it comes to fireworks sales and types that go out there, and the results have been troublesome for many communities,” Martin said. “We have no control over it anymore, and it has become a noise issue when it is fired off, and it is problematic and creates some public safety concerns in regards to the availability of fireworks and storing them at home.

“Without the ability to address this locally, our hands are tied, so we urge the state to reconsider it.”

Royal Oak and Clawson city councils adopted similar resolutions in the past month.

The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act states that “a local unit of government shall not enact or enforce an ordinance, code or regulation pertaining to or in any manner regulating the sale, display, storage, transportation or distribution of fireworks regulated under this act.”

Last June, council adopted an ordinance amendment that restricted residents from using fireworks on private property outside of the day before, day of and day after a holiday. Fireworks are never allowed on public property.

If someone is caught using fireworks on a day outside of those allowed, or between 12-8 a.m. on those days, and 1-8 a.m. on New Year’s Day, they could be cited with a civil fine up to $500.

While the days are limited, Police Chief Timothy Collins said noise complaints have continued to roll in.

“The new state law has allowed people on any holiday, not just the Fourth of July, to fire off fireworks we used to call class A and B, and they can do it all day long,” Collins said. “When you have people with kids or people with dogs, the cops can’t do anything about it. Occasionally, you have people lighting off fireworks and they have been drinking all day, so thankfully we have had no real injuries.

“This is a slippery slope because it is legal and that pretty much means there are no restrictions. This is not evil people doing this, just people who like fireworks, but it has got out of hand and it was one of the dumbest moves the Legislature has ever made.”

Collins said a concern is fireworks stores opening up near neighborhoods, such as the one that has been approved in Royal Oak.

“The other fear is people want to open up fireworks stores near communities, and we are not afraid of the revenue or free enterprise, but about storing things that blow up in one room,” he said. “My personal opinion is I’m pretty sure we are going to survive without any things blowing up in the air that is not done professionally at a display. No one will starve, and I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but the state is not making any money in revenue, and that was part of the reason to do it in the first place.”

Coulter said he feels the law has done more harm than good and it would be in everyone’s best interest for the Legislature to repeal the law.

“This isn’t a new issue for us, as when the law first got passed, we got a letter together with mayors in south Oakland County, and then last year we passed a resolution, so this is our third bite of the apple,” he said. “My perspective is the law has been a disaster. It has not only affected people’s quality of life in terms of noise, but in safety hazards, as well. I used to think the law could be fixed, but I have come to believe the law would be better off if it was repealed altogether.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Joshua Gordon at jgordon@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1077.