Eastpointe City Council to vote on fireworks ordinance changes

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published July 1, 2021

  Two proposed ordinances could affect how fireworks are sold out of tents and other temporary structures in Eastpointe.

Two proposed ordinances could affect how fireworks are sold out of tents and other temporary structures in Eastpointe.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

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EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe City Council will vote on two proposed ordinance amendments at its meeting on Tuesday, July 6, that will affect how fireworks may be sold in the city.

The two measures would prohibit the sale of fireworks from a temporary facility, such as a tent, trailer or stand. They also would require any fireworks sales in the city to be moved into permanent, brick-and-mortar businesses within the community.

“Every Fourth of July, we have fireworks tents where businesses apply to sell fireworks from. It brings with it some potential hazards that we are trying to get on the front end of,” said Eastpointe Deputy Fire Chief Nick Sage. “They are set up in parking lots, which increases foot traffic in parking lots, which increase the chance for accidents. Having them in parking lots where cars park just increases the chance for someone getting hurt.

“The other concern is the placement of the tents. It has to be 20 feet back from the easement, according to current ordinances. It also has to be 20 feet from any cars. It is very hard to police; it makes it difficult to make sure everyone is compliant. The last major concern is the business where the applicant operates for a couple of weeks for a very small fee, and this doesn’t benefit the city. We would like to push that type of business into a brick-and-mortar business. This would also mean they have fire suppression systems like sprinklers. This also would make the business year-round, which would benefit the city.”

Sage said that fireworks being able to be sold from tents and other temporary businesses places a difficult challenge on the authorities who have to monitor those businesses to make sure they are operating safely.

“These businesses have to be inspected regularly to make sure they are compliant, and there are too many moving parts to do this all the time with so many spread out,” he explained. “Having them brings only so much revenue to the city, which isn’t enough to offset the extra work. With so many vacant businesses in town, it would benefit the town more if they were occupied by these currently outdoor businesses.”

Another related issue is that the permits to have such a temporary business in Eastpointe are relatively inexpensive and the businesses will leave after the holiday, according to Sage.

“We want to prevent injuries and help build a more viable business community in this town,” Sage said. “These tents come and go and provide very little benefit to the city. People drive from all over to come here because so many communities don’t allow this sort of thing anymore. We just want to catch up with what other communities are doing.”

The Eastpointe City Council performed a first reading of the proposed ordinance changes at its meeting June 15.

Councilman Cardi DeMonaco said he disagreed with the two proposed measures, saying that he doesn’t believe them to be necessary.

“I was opposed to those two fireworks ordinance changes because, just because the fireworks can be dangerous, as long as they are done safely, that is the important part,” DeMonaco said. “I agree we can increase the fee for doing outdoor sales, but to require a brick-and-mortar building for firework sales would be too difficult for those looking to sell them a few days a year. … I think as long as we’re keeping cars a safe distance from those tents, and the vendors are abiding by the rules, it should be safe.”

He added that there have been few incidents regarding fireworks in Eastpointe, and none were related to them being sold from tents or other temporary structures.

“I think people should be able to do fireworks in general, and it would be good for businesses to be able to make a little revenue by subleasing out their space to these fireworks vendors,” said DeMonaco. “The fire marshal mentioned four incidents at the meetings, but none were at the tents. As long as we have the Fire Department checking the tents, and since these vendors have to be licensed with the state in addition to registering with the city, it’s enough. There are always injuries with people not handling fireworks properly; the laws on the books should be enough.”

Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens said she is leaning toward support of the two measures but wants to make sure that they are done in a way that will not hurt potential businesses.

“I was leaning toward the safety factors of them. I support entrepreneurship and businesses, but safety for our residents and city has to be the priority,” she said. “We saw enough people losing enough business during COVID, but putting these types of businesses inside an actual building will keep people safer. So I am leaning toward supporting them. I want to make sure we aren’t stopping these businesses, but I want to make sure they are going into (brick-and-mortar) buildings.”

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