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City announces intentions to enforce fireworks rules

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 23, 2016

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STERLING HEIGHTS — It wasn’t an explosive announcement, but city officials said they are once again getting ready to enforce the laws and rules pertaining to consumer fireworks.

At a May 17 City Council meeting, Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool reminded residents about the basics of the city’s and the state’s consumer fireworks regulations. Consumer fireworks, unlike novelty items such as sparklers, are known for leaving the ground during use.

“And as we enter the summer and holiday season, I wanted to talk a little bit about fireworks, because very soon we’re going to start getting calls about neighbors who are using fireworks,” Vanderpool explained.

Vanderpool said that although the city has the right to ban consumer fireworks usage 335 days of the year, the state enacted laws several years ago that set apart 30 days for consumer fireworks displays — the days of, preceding and following 10 national holidays. Those holidays include New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day.

Still, Vanderpool said, fireworks displays on those designated days are permitted within the hours of 8 a.m. to midnight.

“And the city does enforce this ordinance to the best of its ability, so you do risk getting a citation from the city if fireworks are discharged outside of those hours, or I should add, on any of the other 335 days when fireworks are not allowed in the city, consumer-grade fireworks,” he said. “So in other words, you can’t set off fireworks this weekend (May 21-22).”

In addition, Vanderpool said fireworks spectators must stand back 25 feet — 50 feet for minors. Officials said that users may still be cited if they break the city code on related matters pertaining to noise violations, nuisances, disturbing the peace or littering.

“If you happen to hear fireworks and it’s not one of those holidays, you can certainly call our Police Department. We’ll do our best to enforce it,” Vanderpool said.

Last year, the City Council passed an ordinance that bans the sale or use of floating sky lanterns due to fire and safety concerns. Some city officials, such as Mayor Pro Tem Joseph Romano, have also previously called for changes to the existing state laws, which restrict how municipalities may regulate consumer fireworks use.

Sterling Heights Police Lt. James Belmonte said the Police Department stays out of matters when it sees legal fireworks activity, and he said Police Chief John Berg has not made any changes at this time on how fireworks matters should be handled.

“In the past, though, we have (done) patrol activity, and as we run into fireworks activity that falls on the illegal side, then we confiscate and we get rid of it,” Belmonte said.

Learn more about Sterling Heights and its fireworks rules by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.

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