Royal Oak slashes number of days, hours fireworks allowed

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published February 19, 2019

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ROYAL OAK — On Feb. 21, Royal Oak’s revisions to restrict its fireworks ordinance will take effect.

The ordinance, unanimously approved by the Royal Oak City Commission, radically cuts down the number of days and hours that residents can legally ignite, discharge or use consumer fireworks.

Consumer fireworks do not include ground or handheld sparkling devices.

The city opted to adhere to the strictest limits outlined in the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, which was amended Dec. 28.

The new legislation brings the total number of days per year that residents can use consumer fireworks from 30 down to approximately 12.

Previously, residents could use consumer fireworks between 8 a.m. and midnight on the day before, the day of and the day after any national holiday — New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Washington’s birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. On New Year’s Day, the use of consumer fireworks could only be regulated between 1 and 8 a.m.

Now, residents can only legally use consumer fireworks between 11 a.m. Dec. 31 and 1 a.m. Jan. 1; between 11 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Memorial Day; between 11 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. June 29-30, July 1-4 and July 5 if that date is a Friday or Saturday; and between 11 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Labor Day.

The ordinance also prohibits the ignition of fireworks on public property, school property, church property or any other person’s property without permission, as well as while under the influence of alcohol and/or a controlled substance.

It will require a person found responsible of an ordinance violation to pay the actual cost of storage and destruction of the fireworks and will continue to prohibit the possession of fireworks by minors, or individuals younger than 18.

The ordinance increases the maximum penalty for violating the ordinance from $500 to $1,000, depending on the offense. It also makes the violation a civil infraction instead of a misdemeanor.

“I think we’re getting out ahead on this issue more quickly than a lot of other communities,” City Attorney David Gillam said. “I fully expect that just about every other community in the area will be adopting the same kind of restrictions that we are.”

Commissioner Kyle DuBuc said he was glad that the state was allowing individual municipalities more local control.

“They’re still demanding that we allow folks in dense urban areas to be firing rockets at each other on certain days,” he said. “I think residents are going to be appreciative that we’re doing what we can to rein this in.”

Commissioner Melanie Macey said she enjoys setting firecrackers off in her driveway on the Fourth of July, but she understands that the noise from fireworks can be an issue for military veterans and pets.

She added that she considered a $1,000 fine to be steep, but Gillam said the civil fine adheres to how the state law is written.

Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue agreed that the fine is steep and that the Police Department would work out how it would enforce violations, including allowing discretion to judges and magistrates.

“I’d be happy if they could limit even more and let the Royal Oakers decide what type of fireworks are appropriate,” he said.

The City Commission approved the first reading of the ordinance at its Jan. 28 meeting and the second reading at its Feb. 11 meeting. Ordinance changes take effect 10 days after approval of the second reading.

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.