WarrenJune 28, 2012
Warren council approves fireworks ordinance
By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer
City officials have voted to limit revelry with fireworks in Warren, despite a recent change to state law that made it legal to purchase and ignite fireworks that explode on the ground or in the sky.
At the request of Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, members of the City Council have approved a new fireworks ordinance that includes a list of restrictions beyond those included in the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act.
The state law that went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year made it legal to purchase and use consumer fireworks that leave the ground or explode, for the first time in recent memory.
The law made it illegal for minors to buy them, or for anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs to use them. It also is illegal to ignite them on public property or on private property without permission from the owner.
A council-amended version of Warren’s proposed fireworks ordinance goes much further than that.
While state law denies towns and cities the right to ban fireworks outright within a three-day period of before, during and after a list of national holidays, it does allow for ordinances curtailing their use on all other days.
Based on the ordinance, consumer fireworks are now banned in Warren on any of the days not specifically exempted by the state.
Use of fireworks is also restricted between 10:30 p.m. and 11 a.m. on all days, and they are prohibited in city parks at all times.
Additionally, it is now against city ordinance to discharge fireworks within 30 feet of a building, vehicle or landscaping.
The 30-foot restriction adopted by the council was modified from the mayor’s original request, which sought a 200-foot buffer that Council Secretary Scott Stevens said would have made it essentially illegal to ignite fireworks in the city.
Stevens, who cast the lone vote against enacting the “emergency ordinance” on June 26, said that’s still essentially the case, despite the changes.
“The way this whole thing went down, from what was originally the first reading to what became a first and second reading, it was very Machiavellian, the way it was done,” Stevens said. “I would venture to say the vast majority of people on council didn’t even read the second ordinance that came from the administration. They just knew that’s what the mayor wanted, so they voted for it.”
After the first version of the proposed ordinance was introduced June 12, Stevens maintained he wasn’t against enacting safeguards. Rather, he said the ordinance was “written to exclude” the use of fireworks anywhere in the city, despite state law that legalized them.
Fouts last week continued to hammer state lawmakers, calling the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act “ill-conceived,” and “potentially lethal.”
He also accused the state of circumventing local control through an “outrageous, unjustified and unfunded mandate.”
“They’re starting earlier, they’re lasting longer, and they’re louder,” Fouts said. “There is a strong chorus and echo that the city needs to do something about this.”
Fouts said he’s received up to 20 messages a day from residents expressing concerns ranging from pet and child agitation to post-traumatic stress over the amount of fireworks exploding across the city, days ahead of the Fourth of July.
The mayor said he would direct Warren police to strictly enforce state law, and the city’s new ordinance, in the days before and after the holiday this summer.
He also said the city would issue citations to parents of children found violating the law or city ordinance.
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