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 Heart of the Hills festival fireworks are reflected in a puddle June 27 at Borden Park.

Heart of the Hills festival fireworks are reflected in a puddle June 27 at Borden Park.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Rochester Hills places stricter limits on fireworks

Rochester Hills City Council approves amendment to local fireworks ordinance

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 13, 2019


ROCHESTER HILLS — Residents in the city of Rochester Hills now have fewer days to light off fireworks.

At the end of 2018, the Michigan Legislature approved a set of bills giving local communities more control over fireworks. The bills give municipalities the option of cutting the total number of days that fireworks can be set off from 30 days per year to 12, an option that the Rochester Hills City Council unanimously approved Feb. 25.

Under the previous law, the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act of 2011, residents could ignite fireworks on the day before, the day of and the day after all national holidays, generally until 1 a.m.

“Some years ago, a state law — the Michigan fireworks law — was passed, which largely took away our ability to regulate the discharge of fireworks. Until that point, fireworks were pretty much prohibited statewide in all municipalities. But when that law changed, it pre-empted our local ability to ban fireworks on the day of, the day before and the day after any national holiday. That amounted to about 30 days,” said John Staran, the city attorney for Rochester Hills.   

The revised state fireworks law — which leaves in place that maximum number of 30 days if no local restrictions are put in place — also states that communities can pass ordinances that cut off fireworks at 11:30 p.m. on some days.

The amended ordinance went into effect March 4 in Rochester Hills. Residents can now only set off fireworks on Dec. 31 until 1 a.m. Jan. 1; the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Memorial Day until 11:45 p.m.; June 29 to July 4 until 11:45 p.m.; July 5, if that date is a Friday or Saturday, until 11:45 p.m.; and the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Labor Day until 11:45 p.m. Fireworks can start at 11 a.m. each of those days

“Unfortunately, you’ll see that the time when fireworks are probably most prevalent, which is around Independence Day, is still protected by the state law. But it lets us eliminate all the other holidays — like Thanksgiving and Christmas and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Veterans Day, other types of holidays — that aren’t typically fireworks days, but (on) which we couldn’t do anything to prohibit fireworks,” said Staran.

Staran said any violation of the new amended ordinance is a civil infraction, punishable by a $1,000 fine. The fine was previously $500.

“It’s a pretty hefty penalty, so hopefully that will help get the message out there,” he said. “If a couple of people get nicked for $1,000 fines, that will maybe have an inhibiting effect on others who may want to (flout) this ordinance,” he said.

“Parents will have to really watch, because if your kids get caught doing that, you will end up with a $1,000 fine, which is pretty hefty,” Rochester Hills City Councilwoman Susan Bowyer added.