BELDING — After it was brought to the attention of Belding City Council members more than a month ago and discussed in heavy detail at the July 3 meeting, City Council members officially voted Tuesday night on the first reading of a new fireworks ordinance for the city.
The new ordinance, which will now be up for vote at the next city council meeting, would “essentially prohibit the use of consumer fireworks from 11 p.m. until 11 a.m. during 335 days of the year,” according to City Manager Randy DeBruine.
The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, passed in December 2011, allows for the general sale of consumer fireworks without restriction during national holidays, which makes up the other 30 calendar days of the year.
Councilman Mike Scheid asked why consumer-level fireworks shouldn’t be banned entirely outside of national holidays.
“We don’t need them going off (outside of holidays), it’s crazy enough as it is now,” he said. “Other than on the holidays I don’t see any excuse for them to be allowed, at least the consumer fireworks.”
Councilman Jon Bunce said he believes there are times when people might want to shoot off fireworks outside of national holidays and believed introducing a time restraint “was fine.”
Mayor Ron Gunderson said though he “wished there was some way to just ban the mortars themselves,” stating that those alone are enough to wake up anybody, he felt the 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. time restraint “is a good start.”
“Right now, it is somewhat controlled,” he said. “We also have the (noise) ordinance in place to work with.”
For the 30 calendar days that fall in the period of national holidays, Belding’s current noise ordinance can be enforced.
According to DeBruine, “enforcement of this issue relies on the reasonable person standard where the police officer responding to the complaint bases his or her decision on whether it is disturbing most people,” he said. “Our enforcement of the noise ordinance would generally be for noise late at night.”
Board members approved the first reading of the ordinance unanimously in a 5-0 vote.
In other news, council members approved two motions concerning the Lightning Bend Nature Preserve.
The first motion concerned a Michigan Department of Natural resources declaration and the second motion concerned a buy and sell agreement of land on the preserve.
According to DeBruine, after two years of negotiations, in order to acquire an additional 38 acres of property for the preserve, council members had to approve the motion that confirmed that a grant was submitted and received, as well that an agreement had been signed for closing. DeBruine said the city is within three weeks from closing that agreement.
The property must be used as park or conservation property.
The plot of 38 acres is being donated to the city with the seller of the property paying a 25 percent match for the property as well as closing costs. Closing will take place on Aug. 1.
Both motions were approved by the council unanimously, 5-0.