New law controls fireworks usage around holidays in Madison Heights

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published June 25, 2013

MADISON HEIGHTS — This Independence Day, no fireworks can be used in the city of Madison Heights between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m. Those who violate this law can be hit with a civil infraction carrying a fine of up to $500.

The ban on fireworks between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m. applies to 30 days. Those 30 days are the day of, before and after 10 national holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

New Year’s Day is slightly different, in that the ban is from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m.

As for the other 335 days of the year, the use of fireworks is banned entirely in the city of Madison Heights, although limited exemptions may be granted to those who apply at City Hall and meet certain requirements. The ban was approved by Madison Heights City Council last year to try and curb excessive noise resulting from changes in state law.

The so-called Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, passed by the state Jan. 1, 2012, prohibited cities from regulating the sale, display, storage, transportation and distribution of consumer fireworks, as well as protecting their use on the 30 days specified. The act’s goal was to generate an estimated $30 million in revenues from taxes and licensing fees. 

But the state soon heard from unhappy constituents and municipalities regarding loud booms in the middle of the night, startling pets, infants and the elderly. Other problems include debris clogging up drains and littering yards, and potential fire hazards and bodily harm, with one man in Hazel Park losing a leg due to improper handling last year. 

“We can’t stop the fact the Legislature went ahead and, I think, irresponsibly allowed such widespread and indiscriminate use of large fireworks,” said Madison Heights Mayor Pro Tem Robert Corbett. “We can’t do anything about that, but the least we can do is control the inconvenience to our residents, in terms of the timing and such.”

A new opportunity for the city to “control the inconvenience” arose when the state added a mechanism allowing municipalities to regulate the use of fireworks during certain hours on the 30 days where fireworks had previously been allowed wholesale.  

The lieutenant governor, in the absence of Gov. Rick Snyder, signed House Bill 4743 into law on June 19, enabling municipalities to pass individual ordinances restricting fireworks usage to certain hours on the 30 days.

On June 24, Madison Heights City Council took advantage of this opportunity, passing an emergency ordinance that bans the use of fireworks to the maximum degree allowed by state law on those 30 days.

According to Madison Heights City Manager Ben Myers, this will allow the police to more effectively control the noise situation on the night of July 4.

“We still have a city noise ordinance,” Myers said, “but having state law support on those 30 days gives us some extra teeth that we can use to keep our neighborhoods quiet late at night.”