Harrison Township finalizes fireworks restrictions

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published March 1, 2019


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — It’s official: Residents of Harrison Township now have 18 fewer days per year during which they can celebrate with fireworks.

During a Feb. 25 meeting, the township’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved an ordinance overhaul to its long-standing fireworks laws.

Following the lead of many Michigan communities, the board approved reducing the days that residents can use consumer-grade fireworks from the previously allowed 30 days per year to 12 days per year.

“I might be of the mindset that this is 12 days too many, but at least it’s a step in the right direction,” said Harrison Township Supervisor Ken Verkest. “I recognize folks enjoy celebrating, but sometimes it gets to be a bit stressful for some residents.”

The changes, which also include stricter penalties for violators, come after new amendments made to the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act. The amendments, approved late last year by former Gov. Rick Snyder, modify when and how a municipality may regulate the ignition, discharge and use of consumer fireworks.

Under the old law, municipalities could not regulate the ignition, discharge or use of consumer fireworks on the day preceding, the day of or the day after a national holiday during certain time periods, depending on the population of the local unit. The new amendments to this provision reduce the number of days that municipalities are prevented from regulating consumer fireworks use so that they better align with the holidays when people traditionally shoot off fireworks.

Now the only days and times when a municipality may not regulate the ignition, discharge or use of consumer fireworks are 11 a.m. Dec. 31 to 1 a.m. Jan. 1; 11 a.m.-11:45 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Memorial Day; 11 a.m.-11:45 p.m. June 29 and 30, and July 1, 2, 3 and 4; 11 a.m.-11:45 p.m. July 5, if that date is a Friday or Saturday; and 11 a.m.-11:45 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Labor Day.

The amendments also increase the amount in fines that a municipality should charge for violations of these ordinances from $500 to $1,000. Harrison Township Clerk Adam Wit noted that the ordinance must provide that $500 of the fine must be remitted to the local law enforcement agency — the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office — responsible for enforcing the ordinance.

The ordinance is available for public view on the township’s website, and it defines what is considered a firework.

The ordinance states that when using any fireworks within the township, “a person shall not use them in a manner inconsistent with or contrary to the manufacturer’s direction for use, or in a manner which would reasonably be foreseen to cause, or which actually causes, harm to another or to property, or which causes, creates or perpetuates a violation of any provision of the township’s Code of Ordinances, including but not limited to: disturbing the public peace, violating the township’s nuisance ordinance, or creating or depositing litter in violation of the township’s litter ordinance.”

On Dec. 29, 2018, Snyder approved a package of bills aimed at giving local communities more control to regulate the use and sale of fireworks.

House Bill 5939 enacted a variety of changes to Michigan’s fireworks laws. The changes include increasing the fees an applicant has to pay to obtain a certificate to sell consumer fireworks — those selling consumer fireworks without a certificate will be liable for a civil fine instead of a misdemeanor; requiring a certificate applicant to submit a bond to secure the collection of estimated sales taxes and fireworks safety fees; and giving the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs more autonomy when processing certificate applications and violations.

Under House Bill 5939, retailers also are required to provide purchasers with a notice of when fireworks may be used.

House Bill 5940 — which was written by state Rep. John Chirkun, D-Roseville — allows a municipality with a population of more than 100,000 or any local government in a county with a population of more than 750,000 to regulate the number of temporary structures from which fireworks are sold and the distance between them in that community.

House Bill 5941 grants more authority to local fire departments to enforce no-burning restrictions in regard to environmental concerns and gives the governor, the Department of Natural Resources and the state fire marshal the power to enforce statewide no-burning restrictions. It also states that local departments must notify residents within 24 hours if such bans have been lifted.

State Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township, one of the supporters of the bill package, noted how many calls local authorities receive each year related to noise complaints and other disputes involving fireworks, adding that the legislation will reduce the number of complaints.

“The Harrison Township, Clinton Township and Macomb Township police and fire departments receive thousands of calls year-round about fireworks being blown up well into the early morning,” Marino said in a prepared statement. “With new time restrictions, we can all agree this legislation will allow first responders to dedicate more time and energy to other matters in the community, and potentially save departments money.”