Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | May 22, 2018

City ordinance limits fireworks

By Dave Hotle | Jun 21, 2017
Council member Jaron Rosien examines rockets collected by the police.



After hearing the concerns of several residents regarding the use of fireworks in town, the Washington City Council voted Tuesday night to suspend the rules and approved an ordinance limiting the number of days fireworks can be used.

According to the amendment made by council member Jaron Rosien, fireworks would be allowed to be shot between June 30 and July 8 and Dec. 31 through 12:30 a.m. Jan. 1. The amended code comes after many complaints regarding the use of fireworks in Washington since the state ban on fireworks was lifted earlier this year.

“We approved the first reading of the ordinance last time and asked to receive input from the public,” Rosien said. “I think we have. I believe we have an overwhelming obligation to either outlaw them completely or restrict them significantly.”

The new law will go into effect as soon as it is published. City clerk Illa Earnest believes the ordinance will be published on Friday. If the rules had not been suspended, the next time the council could vote on the third reading of the ordinance would have been July 5.

According to the law approved at the state level, fireworks can be sold on certain dates throughout the year. The law does not prohibit municipalities from passing ordinances restricting the use. Johnson County has banned fireworks use.

Council member Steve Gault said he disagreed with a ban, saying he had spoken with several constituents who opposed outlawing the use completely. He said he agreed with some kind of restriction. He recommended to people who had spoken against fireworks use at the meeting to get a petition together if they wanted fireworks banned.

‘What I have heard from people is that we have just gotten this back and why should 1 percent of the population of Washington dictate what the rest of the population can have,” he said.

Council member Millie Youngquist said she had received complaints about fireworks from several constituents. Council member Kerry Janecek said he only received two emails about the issue.

“Some people are frustrated that people are shooting off fireworks on their property and it is ending up on a property up to three blocks away on someone’s bushes or someone’s porch,” Washington Police Chief Greg Goodman said.

During the meeting, Goodman showed the council some rockets that officers had recovered while answering calls about fireworks.

“I’ve been contacted by a lot of people who don’t want them, period,” council member Brendan DeLong said. “They believe there is an extreme safety issue in town and the noise is unbearable. “

City fire marshal Bruce McAvoy said there is one firework vendor permit requested from Wal-Mart. He said the store plans to only sell items that had been legal previous to the new state law, such as sparklers and snakes. He said two others are pending.

“I think we have an individual who may be exceeding the consumer size in town,” he said.

McAvoy also said the level of fireworks that can be sold in Missouri is less restrictive than in Iowa. He also commented Sen. Jake Chapman, a proponent of firework legalization in Iowa, had threatened several areas that had banned firework use with lawsuits.

The state Legislature voted earlier this year to lift a sale ban on fireworks earlier this year. Previously, the state banned the sales of most explosive fireworks after two incidents involving property damage. In 1931, five blocks of Spencer’s business district were destroyed after a boy dropped a lit sparkler into a fireworks display. The incident resulted in 25 buildings being lost and 50 more damaged. On July 4, 1936, a girl dropped a sparkler on a pile of gasoline-soaked rags in a garage, which ended up destroying 20 businesses.

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