Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 23, 2018

Fireworks ordinance to get final reading

Sep 29, 2017

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


After narrowly passing its second reading earlier this month, a set of amendments to the city’s fireworks ordinance will get its final reading when the Washington City Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Washington Public Library.

During the council’s Sept. 19 meeting, the second reading of the amendments passed 4-2, with council members Millie Youngquist and Kerry Janecek calling for a total ban of fireworks in the city. If the third reading is approved, the amendments to the ordinance would allow fireworks to be used on New Year’s Eve, but limit the summer usage to July 3 and 4. It would also limit the kinds of fireworks that can be used in the city.

Currently the city’s fireworks ordinance allows fireworks to be shot off on 11 days during the year. The amended ordinance would limit the number of days to three. The ordinance was approved shortly after the state approved the sale of fireworks and gave municipalities the freedom to determine usage, with the council wanting an ordinance in place before Independence Day. The amended ordinance was drafted as a compromise after council members had received input advocating both a total ban and keeping the ordinance the way it was.

During the Aug. 15 meeting, the council approved drafting the ordinance that would limit the days per year fireworks could be used in town. The council members who voted in favor of the second reading said that the council had decided on a compromise and wished to see how it went before deciding whether fireworks should be banned. The council members in favor of a total ban said that feedback from constituents was overwhelmingly in favor of a total ban.

During the meeting several instances were cited from instances that had occurred in Washington this year that cited the more powerful fireworks as a safety risk. The ordinance the council approved earlier this year limits fireworks use to the shooter’s own property.

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. 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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